CAHSEE No Longer a Graduation Requirement

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On October 7 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill from the state Senate to repeal section 60851.6 of the California Education Code, effectively suspending the requirement for high school students to pass an exit exam in order to graduate. For the next few years, there will be no exam requirement for graduation. This time will be spent re-evaluating the previous test and developing a new one that better fits the needs of California schools.

Steve Lippi, Instructional Vice Principal at M-A, speculates that one reason for the repeal could have been the disconnection with national education standards. Schools across the country have begun teaching based on Common Core standards, which do not coordinate with the CAHSEE. Lippi said, “The test wasn’t aligning anymore to the type of things students were learning, and therefore it doesn’t make sense to have high school dependent on something that students weren’t being prepared for.”

In past years, students have repeatedly failed the CAHSEE and therefore were not awarded a high school diploma. Beginning on January 1 2016, students who completed their senior year during the 2003-2004 school year will be retroactively awarded diplomas, as long as they have fulfilled all other necessary requirements. Lippi estimates that only a few students per year have completed all graduation requirements except for the CAHSEE, however, there may be many more who dropped out with incomplete credits because they thought they may never pass the CAHSEE. Lippi says that these students could possibly be encouraged to “come back, finish their one or two courses in adult school … and get the high school equivalent diploma.”

Although this change will only directly affect a few students each year, it may have a more profound effect indirectly on students’ attitudes. Students in these next three graduating classes will be relieved of the pressure to pass a standardized test in order to receive their diploma. Therefore, they may feel that completion of the other graduation requirements is more plausible. In addition, the new test that is being developed will hopefully align more smoothly with the curriculum being taught. Overall, the removal of this requirement will allow more students to graduate from high school and give test makers time to reconsider the exam and its material.

Sarah Orttung is a senior in her third year on the staff. She likes to write features and opinions to bring attention to issues that may otherwise be overlooked. She hopes that the Chronicle can be a force for social change, and is excited to help others on their staff use their voices in an influential way.

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