| Updated: April 9, 2019
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Which States Require an Exam to Graduate?

An Interactive Breakdown of States’ 2016-17 Testing Plans

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Education Week has tracked states’ testing plans in math and English/language arts since 2014. This year’s survey found a continued, steady erosion in the number of states using the PARCC or Smarter Balanced common-core-aligned tests: five fewer than in 2017. The number of states requiring students to take college-admissions tests, or pass an exit exam to graduate, is holding steady. (For an interactive breakdown of states' 2016-17 testing plans, click here.)

Below are highlights from the latest survey of testing plans. Scroll down to see the full results for 2019.


Which States Require Exit Exams?

Requiring exit exams is HOLDING STEADY after a decline.

  • Thirteen states require students to pass a test to get a high school diploma, one more than in 2017. In some states, students can use projects or portfolios to meet this requirement. Exit exams used to be more popular: In 2002, more than half the states required them.

Learn more about the states that require exit exams.
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Which States Use PARCC or Smarter Balanced?

Only ONE-THIRD of the states use the PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests.

  • Fifteen states and the District of Columbia will administer PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests in the spring of 2019. That’s five fewer than in 2016 and 2017.
  • Thirty-two states use tests they designed or bought.
  • Three states give hybrid tests. Two mix their own questions with items from the PARCC/New Meridian item bank, and one adds its own questions onto the full Smarter Balanced test.
  • Read more about the current state of common-core tests.

Learn more about the states using PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests.
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Learn more about the states using non-consortium tests.
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Learn more about the states mixing PARCC and Smarter Balanced with their own items.
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Which States Require Students to Take the SAT or ACT?

Requiring the ACT or SAT is HOLDING STEADY after a rise in popularity.

  • Twenty-five states require students to take the SAT or ACT, the same number as in 2016 and 2017. That number had been climbing steadily—from seven states a decade ago— as states looked for ways to encourage students to go to college.

Learn more about the states that require SAT or ACT.
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What tests are states requiring in 2018-19?

Below is a complete breakdown of results from our state survey.


State Name3-8 TestHigh School TestExit Exam?Notes
Alabama3-8 Test: ScantronHigh School Test: pre-ACT, ACT, ACT WorkKeysExit Exam? No 
Alaska3-8 Test: Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools (PEAKS)High School Test: PEAKSExit Exam? No 
Arizona3-8 Test: AZMeritHigh School Test: AZMerit end-of-course exam or substitutesExit Exam? NoNotes: Districts may substitute other tests, such as SAT, ACT, IB or AP, for high school AZMerit.
Arkansas3-8 Test: ACT AspireHigh School Test: ACT AspireExit Exam? NoNotes: All districts must offer ACT, but students not required to participate.
California3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter BalancedExit Exam? No 
Colorado3-8 Test: Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)High School Test: PSAT, SATExit Exam? NoNotes: CMAS is a mix of questions developed by Colorado and by PARCC/New Meridian.
Connecticut3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: SATExit Exam? No 
Delaware3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: PSAT, SATExit Exam? No 
District of Columbia3-8 Test: PARCCHigh School Test: PARCC, SATExit Exam? No 
Florida3-8 Test: Florida Standards Assessments (FSA)High School Test: FSAExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass exit exams or achieve specified scores on ACT or SAT.
Georgia3-8 Test: Georgia MilestonesHigh School Test: Georgia Milestones end-of-course examsExit Exam? No 
Hawaii3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter Balanced, ACTExit Exam? No 
Idaho3-8 Test: Smarter Balanced High School Test: Smarter Balanced, SAT or ACTExit Exam? No 
Illinois3-8 Test: PARCCHigh School Test: PSAT, SATExit Exam? No 
Indiana3-8 Test: ILEARNHigh School Test: ISTEP+Exit Exam? Yes 
Iowa3-8 Test: Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP)High School Test: ISASPExit Exam? No 
Kansas3-8 Test: Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)High School Test: KAPExit Exam? No 
Kentucky3-8 Test: Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP)High School Test: K-PREP, ACTExit Exam? No 
Louisiana3-8 Test: Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP)High School Test: LEAP end-of-course testsExit Exam? YesNotes: LEAP is a mix of questions designed by Louisiana and by PARCC/New Meridian. Students may substitute WorkKeys for ACT.
Maine3-8 Test: Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)High School Test: SATExit Exam? No 
Maryland3-8 Test: PARCCHigh School Test: PARCCExit Exam? Yes 
Massachusetts3-8 Test: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)High School Test: MCASExit Exam? Yes 
Michigan3-8 Test: Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), PSATHigh School Test: PSAT, SAT, ACT WorkKeysExit Exam? NoNotes: M-STEP includes Michigan-designed questions and the Smarter Balanced test.
Minnesota3-8 Test: Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)High School Test: MCA Exit Exam? No 
Mississippi3-8 Test: Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP)High School Test: MAAP, ACTExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass MAAP end-of-course exams, or use other options, including achieving specified scores on the ACT or grades in dual-credit courses.
Missouri3-8 Test: Missouri Assessment Program (MAP)High School Test: MAP end-of-course testsExit Exam? No 
Montana3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: ACT Exit Exam? No 
Nebraska3-8 Test: Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS)High School Test: ACTExit Exam? No 
Nevada3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: ACTExit Exam? No 
New Hampshire3-8 Test: New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System (NHSAS), *Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) (some districts)High School Test: SATExit Exam? NoNotes: *11 districts give NHSAS in grades 3-4 and 6-8, and use locally designed performance assessments (PACE) in other tested grades.
New Jersey3-8 Test: PARCC High School Test: PARCCExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass PARCC or use other options, including achieving specified scores on the ACT or SAT.
New Mexico3-8 Test: PARCC High School Test: PARCCExit Exam? Yes 
New York3-8 Test: New York State AssessmentsHigh School Test: Regents ExaminationsExit Exam? Yes 
North Carolina3-8 Test: North Carolina End-of-Grade TestsHigh School Test: North Carolina End-of-Course Tests, ACTExit Exam? NoNotes: WorkKeys required of students completing career-technical education courses of study.
North Dakota3-8 Test: North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA)High School Test: NDSAExit Exam? NoNotes: Students must take ACT or WorkKeys. Districts may substitute ACT for state high school test.
Ohio3-8 Test: Ohio's State TestsHigh School Test: OST end-of-course exams, ACT or SATExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass end-of-course exams, or achieve specified scores on other tests, such as ACT or SAT.
Oklahoma3-8 Test: Oklahoma School Testing ProgramHigh School Test: ACT or SATExit Exam? NoNotes: Districts choose between ACT and SAT.
Oregon3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter BalancedExit Exam? No 
Pennsylvania3-8 Test: Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)High School Test: Keystone end-of-course testsExit Exam? No 
Rhode Island3-8 Test: Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS)High School Test: PSAT, SATExit Exam? No 
South Carolina3-8 Test: SCReady High School Test: end-of-course tests, Ready to Work Exit Exam? No 
South Dakota3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter BalancedExit Exam? No 
Tennessee3-8 Test: TNReadyHigh School Test: TNReady end-of-course tests, ACT or SATExit Exam? NoNotes: Districts choose between ACT or SAT.
Texas3-8 Test: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)High School Test: STAAR end-of-course testsExit Exam? Yes 
Utah3-8 Test: Readiness Improvement Success Empowerment (RISE)High School Test: Utah Aspire Plus, ACTExit Exam? NoNotes: Utah Aspire Plus blends Utah-developed items and items from ACT Aspire.
Vermont3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter BalancedExit Exam? No 
Virginia3-8 Test: Standards of Learning (SOL)High School Test: SOL end-of-course examsExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass SOL exams or achieve specified scores on other tests, including ACT, SAT, AP or IB.
Washington3-8 Test: Smarter BalancedHigh School Test: Smarter BalancedExit Exam? YesNotes: Students must pass Smarter Balanced, or use other options, including achieving specified scores on ACT, SAT, AP or IB.
West Virginia3-8 Test: West Virginia General Summative AssessmentHigh School Test: SATExit Exam? No 
Wisconsin3-8 Test: Wisconsin ForwardHigh School Test: ACT Aspire, ACT, ACT WorkKeysExit Exam? No 
Wyoming3-8 Test: Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP)High School Test: WY-TOPP, ACTExit Exam? No 



Design & Visualization: Stacey Decker & Vanessa Solis

Vol. 36, Issue 21

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