State Board Delays Exit Exam Consequences

The California Board of Education this week voted unanimously to postpone high school exit exam consequences for two years. Passage of the exam had been scheduled to become a requirement for high school graduation starting with the Class of 2004. With postponement, the Class of 2006--this fall’s sophomores--will become the first required to pass the state test in English and math to receive a diploma. The first opportunity they will have to take the revised California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) is March 2004. State officials said disappointing statewide results prompted the postponement. When the last batch of scores was released last year, 73 percent of the Class of 2004 had passed the English portion and 53 percent had passed math. In the Long Beach Unified School District, 79.8 percent of the Class of 2004 has passed the English section, and 61.5 percent has passed the math section. While the State Board of Education has postponed the exam as a graduation requirement, this will not be “Ferris Bueller’s Year Off” for students in the Long Beach Unified School District. District schools will be working harder than ever to prepare all students to meet or exceed state standards in English and math. While this year’s juniors and seniors have a reprieve from the diploma test, they must still face employers in a tight job market and colleges with record numbers of applicants and rigorous admission and placement exams. It’s very much in each student’s self interest to take advantage of all of the courses and opportunities LBUSD schools offer that help them meet state standards. If they learn these essentials now, students will save both time and money by not having to take remedial courses in college. They’re also more likely to land better jobs, while those less well prepared won’t get good job offers. “We will continue to expect more of our students,” said Chris Steinhauser, superintendent of schools. “We will press on to have the highest pass rate of any large district on the exit exam when it is reinstated as a graduation requirement. Parents need to know our pursuit of excellence continues. This is no time to relent in our efforts.” The Long Beach Unified School District now requires all students to pass Algebra I. They must also write an acceptable junior thesis or successfully complete a senior writing course. In addition, beginning with the Class of 2007, students must complete 40 hours of service learning to demonstrate civic responsibility and enhance their awareness of career opportunities. These graduation requirements are not affected by the state decision to postpone the consequences of the exit exam.