Cal. Exit Exam Fight Continues

K-12 Testing

Two bills to curtail the pending California high-stakes graduation test, backed by a coalition of civil rights and education reform organizations (Examiner, Spring 2005), are progressing through the legislature, but in weakened condition.


AB 1531, introduced by Rep. Karen Bass, would have required districts to adopt performance assessment measures to use as an alternative to the exit test. The bill narrowly passed the Assembly and is in the Senate education committee. The bill now allows districts to create alternative assessment plans or to use multiple assessments including the exit exam. The state would have to approve the plans. Los Angeles Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) activist Alex Caputo-Pearl explained this would make organizing in local districts more important.


SB 517, sponsored by Sen. Gloria Romero, would have delayed implementation of the exam until such time as districts had sufficient resources to ensure all students the opportunity to pass the test, but the delay was removed from the bill.


Mike Chavez of Californians for Justice (CfJ), which continues to support the legislation, pointed out that “SB517 would allow us to track the learning conditions faced by students attending schools with the lowest test scores. The state would have to report whether or not schools are providing an equal opportunity to learn for all students.” It has passed the Senate and is in the Assembly education committee.


Activists expect to mobilize in the state capital in the near future to show support for the bills. Should either pass this summer, Gov. Schwarznegger, a strong proponent of the graduation test, will have until the fall to decide whether to sign or veto them.


For more information, contact Mike Chavez, (562) 951-1015;