Assessment

Calif. Legislature Considers Postponing Graduation Exam

By Jessica L. Sandham — February 28, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Concerned that California students have not been adequately prepared to take and pass the state’s high school exit exam, which is scheduled to become a requirement for graduation in three years, state lawmakers played tug of war last week over the timing of the test.

The Senate voted 21-13 on Feb. 20 to delay the implementation of the high- stakes test by one year, making it a requirement for students scheduled to graduate in 2005, rather than 2004. The delay was approved as one part of a larger piece of legislation that would make this year’s scheduled administration of the exam only a practice test for 9th graders, rather than an early opportunity for them to take the test and potentially fulfill the graduation requirement.

But members of the education committee of the Assembly, the legislature’s lower house, reversed the Senate-approved delay the following day, passing an amendment that would maintain the original phase-in year of 2004.

The chairwoman of the committee said the panel’s actions did not mean that its members oppose delaying the implementation of the exam, though. Instead, she explained, they favor analyzing the data from next month’s practice run before deciding on a course of action. Many California high school students have simply not had adequate exposure to algebra and other material covered on the exit exam, she added.

“Frankly, the state is going to be putting itself in the path of litigation if we don’t provide equal opportunity to learn this stuff,” said Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin. “I’m not so sure that even putting off the test date until 2005 will do it.”

Voicing similar concerns, policymakers in a growing number of states have opted to delay the start of tests tied to graduation or to students’ promotion to the next grade. (“States Adjust High-Stakes Testing Plans,” Jan. 24, 2001.)

Governor Awaits Data

California officials initially responded to concerns over student preparedness for the exit exam in December, when the state board of education voted to shorten the test by eliminating some of the more difficult algebra questions. (“Calif. Board Votes To Pare Down New Graduation Test,” Dec. 13, 2000.)

Still, Gov. Gray Davis has encouraged lawmakers to maintain the original timetable, arguing that the starting date was thoroughly debated when the legislation for the high school exam was approved in 1999 as a centerpiece of the governor’s education reform package.

But a spokeswoman for the Democratic governor did not rule out the possibility that he could revise his position on the timing of the exit exam if the results of next month’s practice administration suggest that students have not been sufficiently prepared for the test.

“It’s better for us to cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Hilary McLean, the spokeswoman for Mr. Davis. “The governor will review any information that’s pertinent to the implementation of the exam, but I don’t want to guess at what the data will show and what the governor’s reaction will be.”

Secretary of Education Kerry Mazzoni, who was recently appointed by Gov. Davis, further emphasized the importance of evaluating the results of the upcoming practice run.

“Too often in education, we have made decisions based on inadequate information,” Ms. Mazzoni said. “We believe we will be ready [by 2004], but we are willing to engage in a very thorough investigation of that.”

But Assemblywoman Lynne C. Leach, a Republican who serves as the vice chairwoman of the Assembly’s education committee, said legislators should hold the line on the 2004 date.

If students turn in a subpar performance on the practice exam, “it will tell us that we have to make very, very sure that by next year, those youngsters are prepared,” Ms. Leach said.

“This was passed two years ago, and we think that two years is plenty of time to prepare for it,” Ms. Leach added. “If we keep changing the rules, the general public and the educators get very upset and frustrated.”

A version of this article appeared in the February 28, 2001 edition of Education Week as Calif. Legislature Considers Postponing Graduation Exam

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment What the Research Says AI and Other Tech Can Power Better Testing. Can Teachers Use the New Tools?
Assessment experts call for better educator supports for technology use.
3 min read
Illustration of papers and magnifying glass
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Assessment What the Research Says What Teachers Should Know About Integrating Formative Assessment With Instruction
Teachers need to understand how tests fit into their larger instructional practice, experts say.
3 min read
Students with raised hands.
E+ / Getty
Assessment AI May Be Coming for Standardized Testing
An international test may offer clues on how AI can help create better assessments.
4 min read
online test checklist 1610418898 brightspot
champpixs/iStock/Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Whitepaper
Design for Improvement: The Case for a New Accountability System
Assessments in more frequent intervals provide useful feedback on what students actually study. New curriculum-aligned assessments can le...
Content provided by Cognia