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ERIC Number: ED510168
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 12
Effects of the California High School Exit Exam on Student Persistence, Achievement, and Graduation. Policy Brief 09-3
Reardon, Sean F.; Kurlaender, Michal
Policy Analysis for California Education, PACE (NJ1)
In this policy brief the authors summarize the findings from a study investigating the impact of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on California's lowest performing students. Utilizing longitudinal data from four large urban school districts, the authors compare students scheduled to graduate just before (2005) and after (2006-07) the exit exam became a requirement for graduation from California high schools. They find that the CAHSEE requirement has had no positive effects on students' academic skills. Students subject to the CAHSEE requirement--particularly low-achieving students whom the CAHSEE might have motivated to work harder in school--learned no more between 10th and 11th grade than similar students in the previous cohort who were not subject to the requirement. They also find that the introduction of the CAHSEE requirement had a large negative impact on graduation rates for students in the bottom quartile of achievement, and that this impact was especially large for minority students and for girls. On average, graduation rates were 19 percentage points lower among bottom-quartile female students who were subject to the CAHSEE requirement, but only 12 points lower among male students. The graduation rate for minority students in the bottom achievement quartile declined by 15 to 19 percent-age points after the introduction of the exit exam requirement, while the graduation rate for similar white students declined by only 1 percentage point. The analyses further suggest that the disproportionate effects of the CAHSEE requirement on graduation rates are due to large racial and gender differences in CAHSEE passing rates among students with the same level of achievement. Given that the CAHSEE has not met its intended goal of raising student achievement to meet the state's grade-level standards, and that it appears to have disproportionately negative effects for female and minority students, the authors conclude that policymakers should reevaluate the utility of the CAHSEE in California's accountability system. (Contains 4 figures and 2 endnotes.)
Policy Analysis for California Education, PACE. 3653 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1670. Tel: 510-642-7223; Fax: 510-642-9148; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: James Irvine Foundation; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Authoring Institution: Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)
Identifiers - Location: California