In exit exam limbo: Telesis Radford

October 7, 2015

Two points.

If Telesis Radford scored two points higher on the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), the last nine years of her life may have turned out very differently. Radford, 27, had the credits she needed to graduate from Santa Rosa High School in 2006, but because she fell just short of passing the state’s new required test for high school seniors, she never received her high school diploma.

While Radford was awarded a “certificate of completion” to show she finished all her high school coursework, not having her diploma meant many career options were unavailable to her. Even in fields like massage therapy, she could only go so far without proving to employers that she graduated.

Radford wants to be a phlebotomy technician – the person who takes your blood at places like the Red Cross. She’s currently taking a GED course in Santa Rosa, reviewing the same material in science, English and social sciences she learned in classes she passed in high school nearly a decade ago. Without her high school diploma, she can’t get into the phlebotomy technician program she needs to start her career. Radford currently works in an administrative capacity for the Red Cross.

Radford is one of thousands of Californians who passed their high school classes but didn’t receive a high school diploma because they failed the CAHSEE. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign a bill that would retroactively grant diplomas to people in situations similar to Radford’s.

EdSource followed Radford and her husband, Adam Lance, through a typical afternoon as she studied for her GED. We asked how the last decade might have been different for her if she had passed the CAHSEE.

John C. Osborn contributed to this report.

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