Education

California lawmakers approve measure fixing high school exit exam error

File photo: California senators approved a measure that would fix a problem which had kept 5,000 seniors in the Class of 2015 from taking the high school exit exam and graduating.
File photo: California senators approved a measure that would fix a problem which had kept 5,000 seniors in the Class of 2015 from taking the high school exit exam and graduating.
Crystal Marie Lopez/Flickr

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A measure is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown that would free about 5,000 seniors from graduation limbo after state officials canceled the high school exit exam students were scheduled to take in July.

The bill fixes a mistake made by state education officials.

California lawmakers suspended the 15-year-old California High School Exit Exam requirement, beginning with graduating seniors in the class of 2016 because the test no longer aligns with new learning standards known as the Common Core.

Some seniors from the class of 2015, however, thought they would take the exit exam this summer. The test was the last thing the students needed to graduate and earn a diploma.

Rather than renew a contract with the company running the exit exams, officials canceled the July exam. 

“We’ve been hearing from school districts and individual students across the state of California,” said Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell who represents the Long Beach-area. “Students are finding themselves in dire straits.”

O’Donnell authored the Assembly bill that passed the Senate Monday correcting the bureaucratic error by retroactively suspending the exit exam requirement  for the class of 2015.

The graduation glitch won’t be a problem for any of the 5,000 seniors seeking admission as freshmen to a California State University campus.

“We have asked the admissions offices at all 23 CSU campuses to be flexible in the final evaluation of new freshmen who might not have received their graduation date on final transcripts,” said Loren Blanchard, CSU executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

“California high school graduates who aspire to enroll at a CSU campus and meet all other requirements for admission to the CSU will not be turned away because of the decision to cancel the exam,” the vice chancellor said.

A spokeswoman for the University of California Office of the President said its nine undergraduate campuses did not report any problems as a result of the exit exam graduation error.

While the exit exam is suspended for three years, lawmakers will decide whether to overhaul the test or do away with it completely. O’Donnell doesn’t think the state should get rid of the exam, one of several required before graduation.

“I think it's proven to ensure that all students have a basic set of skills before they exit high school and enter the workplace,” he said.

Some California lawmakers have criticized the suspension of the exit exam. They worry there won’t be a way to test whether students are learning basic skills before they graduate.