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ERIC Number: ED503715
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 178
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 29
State High School Exit Exams: Working to Raise Test Scores
Center on Education Policy
The Center on Education Policy (CEP) has been studying state high school exit examinations since 2002. This is the sixth annual report on our comprehensive study of exit exams. The information comes from several sources: our survey of states that have mandatory exit exams, interviews with state officials, media reports, state Web sites, and case studies of eight districts in five states. The report focuses on changes that have occurred over the past year in intervention (strategies used to raise initial pass rates) and remediation (strategies used to raise cumulative pass rates) efforts at both state and local levels, and specifically those efforts that address achievement gaps. Reported findings include: (1) High school exit examinations have a significant impact on American education; (2) Exit exam impact is particularly striking for students of color; (more than 75% of students of color are in states that require passage of exit exams); (3) Exit exams are aligned, for the most part, to grade 10; and (4) Eighteen states reported that the purpose of the exit exam is to determine mastery of the state curriculum, few reported that the purpose is to determine graduates' readiness for entry-level employment or post-secondary education Findings raise questions about the rigor of state standards and exit exams, and highlight a need to reexamine the purpose of state exit exams. The report concludes that the effectiveness of state exit exam intervention and remediation strategies is largely unknown, and many states do not have the capacity to evaluate these strategies. States and school districts are investing significant time, effort, and resources toward increasing passing rates on these exams; states should also develop methods to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of the various strategies they use. More attention needs to be given to the impact that high school exit exams are having on curriculum and instruction. Research aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of high school exit exam policy as a tool for shaping and improving instruction and student performance, especially for disadvantaged students, should be undertaken. A variety of methods to identify issues and collect information for this year's study, including a detailed survey of states with current or planned high school exit exams, analysis of local-level work on exit exams conducted over the past five years, review of major research conducted by others on exit exams, and tracking important events related to exit exams. The study focuses on mandatory exit exams, and includes states that require students to pass, not just take, state exit exams to receive a high school diploma, even if the students have completed the necessary coursework with satisfactory grades; states in which the exit exams are a state mandate rather than a local option; and states that are phasing in mandatory high school exit exams that meet the first two criteria. Individual State Profiles are included. (Contains 11 footnotes, 2 boxes, 1 figure and 13 tables.)
Center on Education Policy. 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 522, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-822-8065; Fax: 202-822-6008; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center on Education Policy, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: United States