California Drops Exit-Exam Requirement for 2015 Class

By Catherine Gewertz — August 31, 2015 1 min read
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If you happened to have been off the grid last week, like I was, you might have missed the news that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that allows students in the class of 2015 to receive their diplomas without passing—or even taking—the state’s mandatory exit exam.

The final chapter in the Golden State’s exit exam fiasco happened on Aug. 26, when Brown signed Senate Bill 725. That new law was designed to fix a teensy little problem that arose when California education leaders let their contract for the state exit exam lapse.

As we reported to you earlier this month, that move left about 5,000 students diploma-less because the July session of the exit exam—the last one of the academic year—was cancelled. Unable to graduate, some of those students were suddenly unable to proceed with their plans for training programs, the military or college.

EdSource reports that the legislature is still set to consider Senate Bill 172, which seeks to suspend the exit exam for three years while the state evaluates other alternatives.

That’s the bill that led California’s superintendent of public instruction, Tom Torlakson, to let the exit-exam contract lapse. It appeared that lawmakers would pass SB 172, making the July administration of the test—which has a $2 million pricetag—unnecessary. But they, um, didn’t, and so 5,000 students were left in the lurch, with no last-ditch way to earn their diplomas.

San Francisco and a few other school districts made their own rules, tossing out state graduation requirements and creating exceptions for these students so they weren’t victimized by a state mistake. And state officials also worked with state college systems to ensure that accepted students could still enroll as long as they’d met all the other graduation requirements.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.