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 Home > News > California Supreme Court Reinstates Exit Exam for Class of 2006; Options Discussed (05/31/06)

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California Supreme Court Reinstates Exit Exam for Class of 2006

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In 1999, the California Legislature passed legislation that requires students to pass exit exams in English and math before graduating from high school. The Class of 2006 is the first class to be affected by this requirement.

The law requires students to pass a test of tenth grade English and eighth grade math and algebra to graduate.

A group of five students sued the state, claiming the exit exam requirement discriminates against low-income and minority students in Valenzuela v. O'Connell. Lawyers for the students argued that the exit exam is unfair because some teachers aren't certified in the subjects tested.

More than 47,000 students failed the test.

On May 12, Superior Court Judge Freeman invalidated the exit exam requirement for seniors because California was ill equipped "to adequately prepare students to take the exam."

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction filed an appeal with the California Supreme Court. He asked the Supreme Court to stay a ruling by the Alameda County Superior Court that halted the exit exam as a graduation requirement for the class of 2006.

On May 24, the California Supreme Court reinstated the exit exam as a requirement for graduation. The high court ordered a state appeals court to hold hearings in the case later this summer. The 47,000 students who have not passed these tests will not receive high school diplomas in June.

The attorneys who represent the students requested an expedited hearing. The First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected their request. Written briefs from the plaintiffs are due on June 13. Oral argument is scheduled for July 25.

On May 30, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction visited high schools in Bakersfield and Fresno to discuss the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and efforts to help students pass the exam.

"I’m sponsoring legislation ... to provide an extra chance to take the exam this summer and in adult education programs and also to provide summer school and adult school focused on the needs of students who have yet to pass the exam in order to get a diploma," said O'Connell. Read news release.

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High Stakes Testing

As school districts and states come under increased pressure to improve educational results, high stakes testing has become a hot issue.

In IDEA 2004, the language about participating in state and district assessments was changed to:

“All children with disabilities are included in all general State and districtwide assessment programs ... with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments, where necessary and as indicated in their respective individualized education programs.” (Section 1412(c)(16)(A))

The High Stakes Testing page includes articles, cases, free publications, and updates on high stakes testing litigation that will help help you advocate more effectively for your child.

Created: 05/31/06
Revised: 00/00/06



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