CAHSEE test abolished in bill signed by Gov. Brown

Julia Cherner

On Oct. 7, Gov. Jerry Brown signed bill SB-172 to abolish the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) as a requirement for receiving a California high school diploma. This bill will stand until the 2018-2019 school year, when the issue will be re-evaluated.

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The test became a graduation requirement in 2006, and the bill grants diplomas to students who have not passed the CAHSEE since then, but have fulfilled all other graduation requirements.

According to the California Department of Education (CDE), 98 percent of Redwood students passed the Mathematics and English-Language Arts CAHSEE tests in 2014. In the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD), 94 percent of students passed the Mathematics portion and 93 percent of students passed the English-Language Arts portion of the exam in 2014.

“We had a really high pass rate,” said Assistant Principal LaSandra White. “To my knowledge, there’s not been a Redwood student who did not earn a diploma because they didn’t pass the CAHSEE.”

White added that because students knew that passing the CAHSEE was a graduation requirement, most took the test seriously, and this contributed to Redwood’s high pass rate.

“I used to be in charge of the STAR test and there were some kids who weren’t really into taking that test because they didn’t see that it was tied to anything anymore,” White said. “But those kids knew that CAHSEE was tied to graduation and once you pass it you’re done and you don’t have to keep taking it. That really motivated our student population and so we had a really high pass rate.”

Though she doesn’t believe that the new testing changes will have an impact on Redwood, White said she still thinks the changes are good because the previous test was not an accurate measure of students’ learning.

“I don’t think it’s going to make a difference here at Redwood,” White said. “If there’s something that would be more meaningful for kids instead of just sitting taking a standardized test then I think it will be interesting to look at.”