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The state canceled next month’s administration of the California High School Exit Exam because the test contract expired, leaving possibly thousands of students’ graduation status in limbo.

State law began requiring that students pass an exit exam to graduate from high school starting with the Class of 2006, giving students eight chances to take it during high school.

But the contract with Educational Testing Service, which administered the exam, only ran through the May test, prompting the California Department of Education to halt the July exam, said Keric Ashley, the department’s deputy superintendent. State officials were awaiting direction from the state Legislature before taking action on the test contract.

About 5,000 seniors, who would have been part of the Class of 2015, are missing the opportunity to take the July exam – often the last-ditch chance to graduate over the summer.

The cancellation comes as the state Legislature considers a bill, SB 172, which would suspend the exit exam requirement for three years.

As introduced earlier this year, the bill called for the exam’s suspension starting in 2016-17 so there would be time to develop a graduation requirement aligned to the new Common Core standards. The exit exam, known as CAHSEE, is based on the former state standards, which are no longer taught in classes.

When state lawmakers learned that the exam’s contract was expiring, the bill was changed to either suspend the requirement that students pass the exam during those three years or “when the exit exam is no longer available.” Because of the uncertainty of the test’s contract, lawmakers added the clause to give flexibility to schools on the graduation requirement.

“It was discovered in actuality, it’s ended anyway because the contact expired,” said Suzanne Reed, chief of staff for Sen. Carol Liu, who is sponsoring the bill.

The California Department of Education sent a June 1 letter to districts, notifying them of the July test cancellation.

Ashley said state officials are watching what the Legislature does with the bill to determine what will happen to the exam and those students who have yet to pass it. A hearing is set for Wednesday on the bill in the Assembly Education Committee. The bill already passed in the Senate.

“Everyone is aware that students are out there waiting and hoping to graduate and they are anxious to hear what the news is,” Ashley said.

It’s unclear what will happen to those students. If the bill passes, the students may be able to skip the exam requirement to graduate. If the bill fails, the state may attempt to extend the test contract so students could take it later, Ashley said.

But there is reluctance to extend the contract for an exam that no longer tests the standards that students are learning.

“There were some folks who opposed suspending the exit exam, saying we need something to hold (students) to some standards,” Reed said. “This is holding them to meet a standard they are not prepared to meet. I don’t know what the purpose would be.”

The vast majority of students pass the exit exam, which includes a math section that goes through Algebra 1 and English sections based on 10th grade standards.

For the Class of 2014, 95.5 percent, or 417,960 students, passed both sections by the end of senior year, according to the California Department of Education.

The July testing is usually small: 4,847 students took the math section and 5,826 students took the English section in July 2013, the most recent figures available. Many of those failing students are often missing school credits and would not have graduated anyway, education officials said.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest district, between 400 and 500 students usually take the July exit exam, said Cynthia Lim, executive director of the district’s office of data and accountability.

District officials were in the middle of setting up places for students to take the July test when the state called off the exam. Also, the district nixed summer school classes to prepare for the exit exam.

“Anytime we take away an opportunity for students, I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Lim said. “On the other hand, CAHSEE is a test aligned to the old California standards, so it’s probably time for revamping that.”


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  1. Jess 8 months ago8 months ago

    So if u didnt pass the cahsee and didn’t complete 17 or more credit in high school can u still get your diploma once that 17 credit is complete? Please advise

  2. Theresa Harrington 9 months ago9 months ago

    There is no requirement to “pass” the SBAC. In fact, there is no “passing” score. However, the SBAC score can be used to determine college readiness by the California State University system. Passing the CAHSEE is no longer a graduation requirement, according to the new law. However, you must still complete all other graduation course requirements in your district to get a diploma.

  3. David 11 months ago11 months ago

    What will happen to the student that didn’t pass the chasee over the past years?

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  4. Vicki 1 year ago1 year ago

    At best, the CAHSEE was the equivalent to a high school entrance exam. Didn’t state officials know that the standards were changing years ago? Why wait for a new test? Seems a bit short-sighted.

  5. Jena 1 year ago1 year ago

    I really feel that the cahsee should not be a requirement due to the fact that students now can attend college without a high school diploma and receive an associate degrees so as far as it being a requirement for the cashee california high school exam it needs to be cancelled and removed and just keep the requirements of high school credits so students could move on to their education, careers and that would also … Read More

    I really feel that the cahsee should not be a requirement due to the fact that students now can attend college without a high school diploma and receive an associate degrees so as far as it being a requirement for the cashee california high school exam it needs to be cancelled and removed and just keep the requirements of high school credits so students could move on to their education, careers and that would also open up the doors to those who can’t move forward due to the fact they haven’t passed the cahsee exam although have all their high school credits and being attending school remove and cancel the HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAM !!

  6. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    One of the first principles of sound testing practice, and endorsed by every known legitimate professional organization (and not by the self-styled reformers or much of the testing industry) is that you never, ever, use one test as the basis for a high-stakes decision for a student. The CAHSEE was an egregious violation of that basic principle. Be gone!

    Replies

    • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

      Gary — You misstate the testing principle — it is one cannot use one test score as the basis for a high stakes decision for an individual student. CAHSEE allows for multiple opportunities for an individual student to take the test, with the test having multiple equivalent forms, for potential multiple scores for each student, and in this fashion satisfies the principle and meets this sound testing principle.

      • ann 1 year ago1 year ago

        Is the passing score for Cahsee 61% or some such nonsense?

        • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

          I wouldn't be surprised the passing raw score is in the 60 percents, but that is typical (not nonsense) for a large scale statewide graduation test across the country. Remember it is a minimum skills test, with the passing score set at the difference between an F and a D on a typical grading scale. It is not designed to identify A or B or even C students, just above F. For that specification, a … Read More

          I wouldn’t be surprised the passing raw score is in the 60 percents, but that is typical (not nonsense) for a large scale statewide graduation test across the country. Remember it is a minimum skills test, with the passing score set at the difference between an F and a D on a typical grading scale. It is not designed to identify A or B or even C students, just above F. For that specification, a score in the 60 percents is not unreasonable.

  7. Ann McCrummen 1 year ago1 year ago

    The reason the exit exam was cancelled: Teachers CAN'T teach the material and resent having their students' grades reflect the teacher's lack of skills, knowledge and expertise. Once someone becomes a teacher, they NEVER have to prove anything to anyone again. They can hand a high school student packets with 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum, not teach a student Algebra because they can't do it themselves, they can be caught in compromising … Read More

    The reason the exit exam was cancelled: Teachers CAN’T teach the material and resent having their students’ grades reflect the teacher’s lack of skills, knowledge and expertise. Once someone becomes a teacher, they NEVER have to prove anything to anyone again. They can hand a high school student packets with 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum, not teach a student Algebra because they can’t do it themselves, they can be caught in compromising positions with students, teach them revisionist history and a whole host of horrors. The public can do NOTHING. Your children are being victimized by an educational system that is run not by businessmen or professionals, but by teachers who want out of the classroom. So they go to another teacher, take some lame credentialing class (run by a fellow teacher, see where I’m going….) and poof! They are the head of accounting, they are the head of HR, they are the CFO. The downfall of our educational system is solely on the shoulders of the people who run it. It’s time for MASSIVE educational reform. If someone can’t teach your child, if the teacher wants to “dumb down” the curriculum so that they can teach it, then it’s time to get these people away from our tax dollars and our children.

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    • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

      You make a great point. Of course you have to take account of students, but teachers need to push kids to study harder and push parents to help them. Nobody should stop being judged on performance, ever. Teachers need that constant stress of other peoples’ opinions mattering and statistical analysis of their performance and real consequences to success and failure. Everyone does. Ann, you make a great point.

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Ann, please don’t lump the majority of good to great teachers along with the inferior ones. It just makes your comment less credible. And while you are correct about the public having little influence over the quality of teachers inclusive of lack of ability by parents to rid schools of teachers who are menaces to their children’s education, the fact is THAT has NOTHING to do with cancelling the CAHSEE.

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      Obviously you are even more hyperbolic then even Faux News. And just what are your credential, experience, and education in the field? You’ve been looking at all of those weird websites again!

      • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

        Gary, do you feel some 30-year old teachers are more deserving than some 60-year olds? You don't have a more accurate alternative in mind. Your alternative is seniority, which is mindless year counting. To be in education you have to join the union and be indoctrinated so you can always claim only those teaching can talk. I've learned a lot raising 5 children. I've seen bad teachers protected and good … Read More

        Gary, do you feel some 30-year old teachers are more deserving than some 60-year olds? You don’t have a more accurate alternative in mind. Your alternative is seniority, which is mindless year counting. To be in education you have to join the union and be indoctrinated so you can always claim only those teaching can talk. I’ve learned a lot raising 5 children. I’ve seen bad teachers protected and good teachers laid off so no teachers have stress. I’ve seen teachers vehemently defend the practice. Why do you think the Vergara suit was necessary? No one was working on a reform on their own. You know most of the parents in the worst teacher’s classrooms are broke, but you claim you wish all the poor parents had pooled resources to pay for the suit instead of a billionaire, but really you just wish all critics would step aside and let your failed policies continue unchecked as far as the eye can see. Be honest about that.

  8. EdMama 1 year ago1 year ago

    Gosh, however did we know if a student was ready to graduate before the CAHSEE? Back in the day” if your grades were considered ‘passing’ per school work and tests, you graduated. There was no NO CAHSEE. If your grades weren’t good enough, no diploma. It’s not that difficult. Get rid of the law, get rid of the test.

  9. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    The issue is moot. The best way to assess the competencies of CA's high school students, either for graduation or for possible success in college, is to look at their grades. That is, grades given by teachers and based on what kid's are actually getting in instruction in classrooms. The HSEE was always a testing "department of redundancy department" that came about as a result of the legislature responding to hysteria generated by the "pundits" … Read More

    The issue is moot. The best way to assess the competencies of CA’s high school students, either for graduation or for possible success in college, is to look at their grades. That is, grades given by teachers and based on what kid’s are actually getting in instruction in classrooms. The HSEE was always a testing “department of redundancy department” that came about as a result of the legislature responding to hysteria generated by the “pundits” and usual school criticism suspects.

    Didn’t need it then, as it had a variety of wholly anticipated negative consequences, and we don’t need it now. Adios.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Every kid knows that some teachers grade harder than others and, by extension, it's harder to attain good grades at some schools compared to others. This is one reason why UC guarantees admission to the top 4% at any given high school. It is a backdoor to achieve diversity and avoid quotas. As a teacher Gary has to know grades are relative, but he chooses to inflate their comparative value as a useful gauge … Read More

      Every kid knows that some teachers grade harder than others and, by extension, it’s harder to attain good grades at some schools compared to others. This is one reason why UC guarantees admission to the top 4% at any given high school. It is a backdoor to achieve diversity and avoid quotas. As a teacher Gary has to know grades are relative, but he chooses to inflate their comparative value as a useful gauge in order to prop them up as the natural alternative to high stakes testing. Common Core, SBAC, PARCC are exerting a growing influence on teacher evaluations. Might that have anything to do with Gary’s religious belief in the value of grades?

      For anyone to claim grades are the best barometer is to turn a blind eye to the almost universal application of social promotion and the grade inflation caused by it. Kids attending low performing schools who score proficient or above on standardized tests will easily earn As and Bs comparatively, as even the most lenient teacher cannot award As or Bs to students who routinely fail to do the assigned work and flunk most tests – unless of course the work is dumbed down in which case grades become utterly meaningless. The same quality of work of a “high performer” at a low performing school might not pass for a C or even a D in a high performing school were standards are much higher.

      Many students will get excellent grades and complete all units required for graduation or even complete the AG course, barely pass the CAHSEE and do very poorly on SAT, ACT, etc.

      From the LAO:

      “The CSU currently admits many students who are unprepared for
      college-level writing and math.
       Of regularly admitted CSU freshmen (those meeting the system’s
      eligibility requirements) in 2009, about 58 percent were
      unprepared for college-level writing or math (or both).
       At seven CSU campuses, at least two-thirds of regularly admitted
      freshmen arrived unprepared for college-level work. At the
      Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills campuses, about 90 percent
      of regularly admitted freshman were unprepared for college-level work”

      These are the students who were accepted having received good grades in high school.

      So much for good grades.

      Gary may come back with his usual schpiel about college admissions and grades. It’s nonsense.

      • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

        Agreed. If one of my kids doesn't make it to Lowell, they'll probably have the highest GPA. However not getting in will mean they got the worst in middle school. I think the SAT is a much more accurate barometer of intellectual ability and actual effort, and there should be several tests to gauge how much you accurately learned in your life. If you wanted to find out how good a … Read More

        Agreed. If one of my kids doesn’t make it to Lowell, they’ll probably have the highest GPA. However not getting in will mean they got the worst in middle school. I think the SAT is a much more accurate barometer of intellectual ability and actual effort, and there should be several tests to gauge how much you accurately learned in your life. If you wanted to find out how good a child is in terms of history or science, I would trust a statewide test far more than their grade. We all know parents fight to get into the right school district. A school in Cupertino, Palo Alto, or San Ramon is going to grade much harder than Hayward, Richmond, East Oakland, where few kids strive. Say you have one school where the average kid started kindergarten reading, had Kumon classes, has pressure to perform well from two parents, and studies 20 hours a week on average, and is surrounded by other kids who are like this, and another where most view school as an oppression and the average kid studies 3 hours a week and has one parent. The average GPA at both schools will be about 3.00 but the SAT scores will show the greater parental effort and effort by the children as well as the advantages from diligent parenting. I was a decent basketball player in an adult league, but put me in the NBA or even junior college and I’d be atrocious, and there were games in which such bad teams took the floor against us I looked like a great player, even though I’m not. It’s similar with grades. SAT scores cut across all this. GPA is more absurd in San Francisco. My daughter had mediocre grades at Lowell, which you get into by grades. She has 1940 on the SAT and is working to improve it, is into the 90s percentile wise. She may reach 95-97 and half don’t take it. This proves to me we were good parents and she is a good student. Grades would mislead

  10. Sandy Valeri 1 year ago1 year ago

    CA law allow parents to opt their children out of standardized testing, like the despised SBAC. Many parents chose to opt their children out of SBAC due to gross violation of student privacy rights by the SBAC consortium. If the plan is to replace the graduation CSHEE with SBAC with parents still have the right to opt our their children? Or will they now be force to supply all their children’s private data to the SBAC consortium?

  11. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Since CAHSEE evaluated 10th grade level math and ELA which, for 12th grade students, was taught before Common Core (quasi) implementation, there should be reasonable alignment of content knowledge with the assessment using the current test, even if those courses were taken a year late. The previous standards were more likely to align with student knowledge than, let's say, an 11th grade SBAC test, assessing with only one incipient year of CCSS instruction. … Read More

    Since CAHSEE evaluated 10th grade level math and ELA which, for 12th grade students, was taught before Common Core (quasi) implementation, there should be reasonable alignment of content knowledge with the assessment using the current test, even if those courses were taken a year late. The previous standards were more likely to align with student knowledge than, let’s say, an 11th grade SBAC test, assessing with only one incipient year of CCSS instruction. But what bothers me most about this cancellation is the total disregard the state leaders have shown the districts and their students by canceling at the last minute like this. And I can’t help but point out that the CDE’s concern for alignment rings hollow considering its push to press forward with SBAC this year before large swaths of California classrooms implemented Common Core into instruction.

    Doug, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the CDE’s failure to procure a test vendor for this year wasn’t as much an administrative bungling as it was a purposeful agenda to make CAHSEE’s sunset a fait accompli.

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    • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

      Folks not privy to behind-closed-doors conversations on an issue really should not attribute a purpose or motivation for a given action, but it sure has all the signs of a purposeful agenda rather than mere bungling. But that really doesn’t matter; the result of the SSPI/CDE handling for procuring a vendor will be the same [a premature shutdown for the high school exit exam program before a full legislative vetting] regardless of motivation.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Doug, it may matter to the folks that voted for Torlakson if he’s playing politics with their children’s chance of graduating.

  12. Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

    The biggest problem with the analysis or assumption by CDE and legislative folks quoted in this post is that since the current exit exam is not based on the new Common Core standards, the current exam does not measure the minimum achievement needed for a high school diploma in California. That is incorrect. The Common Core standards are based on college and career readiness, not minimal skills needed for a high school diploma. Even after … Read More

    The biggest problem with the analysis or assumption by CDE and legislative folks quoted in this post is that since the current exit exam is not based on the new Common Core standards, the current exam does not measure the minimum achievement needed for a high school diploma in California. That is incorrect. The Common Core standards are based on college and career readiness, not minimal skills needed for a high school diploma. Even after instruction on the Common Core is implemented (so far such instruction has not been implemented in many high schools in California), the minimum achievement needed for a high school diploma can still be measured by the pool of test questions in the current CAHSEE item bank, as well as a pool of test questions aligned to the Common Core after these test questions are developed and validated for this purpose.

    SB 172 is a legislative attempt to slide CAHSEE into non-existence before a full legislative vetting to either continue a statewide achievement requirement for a California high school diploma, along with how best to do that in the context of the new CAASPP statewide assessment system, or to repeal the CAHSEE high school graduation requirement program in a thoughtful way. It is particularly egregious that CDE failed to procure an operations vendor for CAHSEE for 2015-16 with the CAHSEE statute still in place and adequate dollars allocated in the 2015-16 budget. That administrative failure is now cited as a reason to advance the suspension of CAHSEE to 2015-16 rather than 2016-17. This is clearly a case of the CDE/SSPI manipulating the vendor procurement process to cause discontinuation of a program currently in statute, before a full legislative vetting for continuation or repeal can take place, and then sponsoring legislation to cover their own malfeasance tailfeathers . . . . .

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    • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

      One terminology clarification, my reference to "sponsoring" legislation in the last line above was to the SSPI sponsoring SB 172. The usual terminology used in the capitol is that the legislator "authors" the legislation, many times for a non-legislator "sponsor" for the legislation. The terminology used in the post that Sen Liu is the "sponsor" of SB 172 is not the typical description used; rather, Sen Liu is the "author" and the SSPI is the … Read More

      One terminology clarification, my reference to “sponsoring” legislation in the last line above was to the SSPI sponsoring SB 172. The usual terminology used in the capitol is that the legislator “authors” the legislation, many times for a non-legislator “sponsor” for the legislation. The terminology used in the post that Sen Liu is the “sponsor” of SB 172 is not the typical description used; rather, Sen Liu is the “author” and the SSPI is the “sponsor.”

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