Cal. Exam Battle Continues

K-12 Testing

A recent report from the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, More Questions Than Answers, documents California’s extremely unequal opportunities to learn and underscores the fundamental unfairness in requiring high school seniors to pass a state exam to obtain a diploma starting in the spring of 2006. A parallel fact sheet suggests that the failure rate will be far higher than state officials have predicted. (


After a settlement was negotiated in a lawsuit challenging use of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) for students with disabilities, the legislature passed and sent to Governor Schwarznegger SB 586, which waives the graduation test requirement for those students in the classes of 2006 and 2007. As this is more than the one year negotiated in the settlement, the Governor has been urged by education authorities to veto the bill. The legislature also approved AB 1531, which allows districts to develop performance assessments for students who take but do not pass the CAHSEE. This was a weaker version of legislation that would have created a more comprehensive, alternative system for determining graduation (see Examiner, Summer 2005). It, too, awaits Schwarznegger’s signature.