Report says that the California Exit Exam is Punishing Minorities and Not Improving Student Achievement

The Los Angeles Times reported, that the California exit examination was keeping at least 22,500 California students a year from graduating who would otherwise fulfill all their requirements. The exam is keeping a disproportionate numbers of girls and non-whites from graduating. It also found that the exam, which became a graduation requirement in 2007, has “had no positive effect on student achievement.”

The exit exam, which students can take multiple times beginning in their sophomore year, includes math and English tests, with the math aligned to eighth-grade standards and English to 10th-grade standards. It has been criticized both for being too easy and for unfairly denying a diploma to students who otherwise might graduate.

The study, funded by the private, nonprofit James Irvine Foundation, is based on analysis of data from four large California school districts, those in Fresno, Long Beach, San Diego and San Francisco. Reardon said the results were very similar for all four districts, suggesting that the conclusions had broad application for all California schools.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that the exam was toughest on students in the bottom quarter of their class, based on state standardized test scores. That was also where the study found the strongest inequality of results.

“Graduation rates declined by 15 to 19 percentage points for low-achieving black, Hispanic and Asian students when the exit exam was implemented, and declined only one percentage point . . . for similar white students,” the study said. Low-achieving girls had a 19 percentage-point drop in their graduation rate, compared with a decrease of 12 percentage points for boys.,0,918646.story