Education

California lawmakers OK exit-exam reprieve affecting 5,000

The Assembly voted Thursday to approve legislation suspending the testing requirement for students who are caught in bureaucratic limbo.
The Assembly voted Thursday to approve legislation suspending the testing requirement for students who are caught in bureaucratic limbo.
File photo by DrWurm/flickr Creative Commons

About 5,000 high school students who couldn't graduate this year because the state canceled a required exit exam would receive a reprieve under legislation advanced Thursday.

The students were expecting to retake a test in July that they needed for diplomas, but it was canceled because the testing provider's contract expired. Lawmakers say students are unable to enroll in college or join the military as a result, although the University of California and California State University systems say students won't be denied entry because of the cancellation.

"The vast majority of them are first-generation immigrants, who have overcome war, violence, poverty and language barriers to finish every other graduation requirement," said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco. "None of these students should have their dreams deferred."

SB725 by Oakland Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock heads to the Senate for an urgent vote to suspend the testing requirement.

The Department of Education says the July test would have cost $2 million to administer, and they were expecting the requirement suspended under separate legislation introduced this year.

That's because the exam is outdated and doesn't match new rigorous education standards in place in California under Common Core.

Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen blasted the situation as avoidable.

"This is something we have been working on for years. There is no logical reason we couldn't have been prepared," the Modesto-area Republican said.

This story has been updated.