California Handing Out Free High School Diplomas?

CAHSEE Suspended Until the 2018-19 School Year


James Qian, Photojournalist

Many high school students around the entire state of California might be celebrating the fact that the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) has now been suspended. And other students, who have already taken the test and passed on their first try, see this action as very logical.


On August 26th, 2015, Governor Brown passed Senate Bill 725, exempting students in the class of 2015 who did not pass the CAHSEE, meaning that all students who completed all their high school graduation requirements could receive their diplomas. However, this bill was only effective towards the class of 2015 and not any classes after that year, meaning that this bill is now inactive.


That’s not all. At around the same time, Senate Bill 725 was being introduced in February; Senate Bill 172, which is now active, was being introduced as well. This bill calls to suspend the CAHSEE for the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 school years. Not only is this bill now suspending the Exam for the next three school years, but also this new education policy is now giving out diplomas to all 12th grade students since 2004 who completed their high school requirements without passing the high school exit exam.


For the students who are questioning why this move was made, the Senate Education Committee received, on February 25th, 2015, the full support of the Student Advisory Board on Education in Legislation (SABLE), a group of around 80 high school students from around the entire state of California who represent all other California public high school students. As agreed upon by the SABLE and written in its proposal, “… the  State Board of Education began the implementation of a transitional stage in order to align school curriculum with Common Core standards. The CAHSEE does not accurately reflect these standards…” With that said, many do have to agree that the test material in the CAHSEE does not align with the standards of Common Core. The California High School Exit Exam has not been updated since it was first implemented in 2006, and it only integrated the California standards, whereas the Common Core standards were introduced in 2012 to California’s education system.


The main concern is the difference between the California education system and the Common Core system, especially in the teaching methods of Mathematics; students have been noticing the drastic difference between how they have been learning math and how they are learning math now. Also mentioned in the SABLE’s proposal: “The [CAHSEE]… tests students’ skills solely in mathematics up to Algebra I… thus not accurately reflecting the course level of the average test taker.” This statement is saying that many of the “average” test takers are already ahead of the curriculum of Algebra 1, calling for a test that reflects each individual test taker’s own ability; this not only applies to Mathematics, but also to Language Arts.


A test that reflects each individual test taker’s ability has already been created: the Smarter Balance Assessment, which has already been fully implemented in the 2014-2015 school year for all 22 states, including California. This gives a further reason to why a move was taken to suspend to CAHSEE.


There will always be those who think that the suspension of the CAHSEE is the last step to making the worst of the crippling California education system, but to others, this is a step toward providing the state a better future.