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

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. f we

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 Long a Testing Bastion, Florida Plans to End 'Outdated' Year-End Exams
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will shift to "progress monitoring" starting in the 2022-23 school year.
5 min read
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2021.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he believes a new testing regimen is needed to replace the Florida Standards Assessment, which has been given since 2015.
Marta Lavandier/AP
Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty