State suspends the California High School Exit Exam

Ashley Lord, Features Editor

California law has suspended the California High School Exit Examination, or CAHSEE, for the next three years as of the 2015-2016 school year. California high school students will not be required to take the CAHSEE to receive a high school diploma.

Section 2 of Senate Bill No. 172, signed by Governor Brown, and Section 60851.5 of the Education Code clearly state the suspension of the exam. “The administration of the high school exit examination, and the requirement that each pupil completing grade 12 successfully pass the high school exit examination as a condition of receiving a diploma of graduation or a condition of graduation from high school, shall be suspended for the 2015–16, 2016–17, and 2017–18 school years,” the bill establishes.

The California High School Exit Examination “was put into place to check proficiency levels of students in California in order to meet some minimum requirements in order to graduate,” Kristin Kooiman, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, said. The CAHSEE checked students’ proficiencies in English and Mathematics.

Kooiman said that the CAHSEE was to be administered for a certain amount of time, and that time has now passed.

SB 172 states that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction must make a panel to give recommendations for alternate high school graduation requirements. According to Kooiman, there is no replacement for the Exit Exam as of now.

California did rename its new testing system to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), according to La Serna Principal Ann Fitzgerald. “This included Smart[er] Balanced tests (Common Core) for 11th graders and the California Science Standards test in science for 10th graders,” Fitzgerald said. Though they are required tests for the state of California, they are not required for graduation.

Students who did not receive a high school diploma due to failing the CAHSEE will not be forgotten. “Students who didn’t graduate just because of the CAHSEE score in the past. . . will have the right to have their diploma as well,” Kooiman said. This is included in SB 172 Section 3 Section 60851.6 of the Education Code.

The removal of the CAHSEE will not alter La Serna’s curriculum in any way. “Most of our test preparation was embedded in our curriculum, so we didn’t spend a lot of time in class just focusing on the test. We were one of the few schools in the district who kept our curriculum the same,” English 2 teacher Elena Klock said. Klock thinks the weeks traditionally spent preparing for and proctoring the exam will now be utilized to the benefit of students, but does not believe there will be great change in the classroom.