CAHSEE Suspended for Three Years

By Kate Finn

California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 172 on October 7, which allows students who completed all graduation requirements but failed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) to receive diplomas.  The bill takes effect in January 2016, and suspends the test until the 2018-2019 school year for all public high school students.

The CAHSEE was traditionally taken by all high school students as sophomores. It was suspended because it was not in line with Common Core, the current state high school standard, and instead was based on the California State Standards, which were replaced in August 2010.

Assistant principal Brian Lynch supports suspending the test. “The content that students were being tested on has shifted because our state has adopted new standards in English and math,” Lynch said.  “And so it’s not appropriate to test our students on materials that they’re not being taught in their classes.”

Under Senate Bill 172, students who completed twelfth grade and all graduation requirements besides the CAHSEE in the 2003-2004 school year or later can now receive a high school diploma.

According to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 95 percent of male students and 97 percent of female students in the district have passed the CAHSEE in the past five years. “I would say the majority of our students pass it the first time,” Lynch said.  “And then the remaining…have passed it before the end of their senior year.”

According to Lynch, most of the students who did not pass were not native English speakers.

To Lynch, ensuring that students are given a fair chance to receive a diplomas is a concern. “It was a pretty high stakes test…a student had to pass it in order to earn a high school diploma,” Lynch said.  “And so I want to make sure that if that’s going to come back, then it’s done in a very thoughtful and supportive way for students.”