Long a major focus of statewide testing programs, the subjects of reading and mathematics have featured even more prominently in state accountability frameworks since the federal No Child Left Behind Act took effect in 2002. Some critics have argued that focusing on a narrow set of subjects effectively marginalizes the attention devoted to other parts of the curriculum. The content of state exit exams offers one barometer to gauge the emphasis placed on various subject areas by the states. As reported in Diplomas Count 2008, each of 23 states that required exit exams for the class of 2008 tested students in both English and math. In all, just over half (12) of those states also assessed students in at least one other subject as part of the exit examination process. Among those other subjects, science and history were the most commonly tested (in 11 and nine states respectively). North Carolina was the only state requiring students to pass a test in the use of technology in order to earn a high school diploma.
For more state-by-state data on exit examinations and other topics, search the EPE Research Center’s Education Countsdatabase.