Sharp exit for leaving exam

27th June 2003 at 01:00

CALIFORNIA suspended its high-school leaving exam last week amid fears that tens of thousands of students would fail.

Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction and architect of California's exit exam, cancelled the July test. He recommended it be mothballed until schools have had more time to gear up for the make-or-break exam.

To date, just 62 per cent of the 459,000 California students due to leave school next year have passed the maths part of the test which takes nine hours over two days.This is despite the fact that many have taken it several times. The pass rate for the English test is 81 per cent.

The exam, to certify that students have mastered the secondary curriculum, is first administered at 16, and students get eight attempts at it. It is considered vital in the job market.

But a study commissioned by California's government predicted that up to 92,000 may still fail.

The state's education chiefs are expected to ratify Mr O'Connell's recommendation next month. They will also consider whether to shorten the maths test and reduce the pass mark from 55 to 40 per cent.

Alaska, Arizona, Maryland and North Carolina also recently beat hasty retreats from high-school exit exams, seen as essential in the new climate of academic accountability.

In Florida, which embraced exit exams most aggressively, thousands of pupils who failed the test took to the streets last month in protest that it discriminated against minority students whose under-resourced schools were not equipped to prepare them.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now