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ERIC Number: EJ838684
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr-29
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Scholars Probe Diverse Effects of Exit Exams: State Graduation Tests Found to Hit Certain Groups Harder
Viadero, Debra
Education Week, v28 n30 p1, 10-11 Apr 2009
A study released last week suggesting that California's high school exit exams are affecting some student demographic groups more than others is the latest in a small spate of studies pointing to trade-offs from policies that require high school students to pass state tests to graduate. Twenty-six states have exit exams in place or will by 2012, according to the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based group that tracks accountability policies. While proponents see the exams as a way to spur students to higher levels of achievement, critics worry that the requirements come down harder on students from poor families, minority groups, or underresourced schools. The California study, which was released April 22 by the Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice at Stanford University, gauges the effect of the Golden State's 6-year-old graduation policy on the first three graduating classes to take the new exit exams in four of the state's largest districts. Collectively enrolling 110,000 high school students, the districts serve students in Fresno, Long Beach, San Diego, and San Francisco. Researchers found that, after 2004, when 10th graders took the exit exams for the first time, graduation rates across the four districts declined by 3.6 to 4.5 percentage points each year. During the same time period, student achievement, as measured by other state tests that the students take in 11th grade, did not significantly improve. The detrimental effects of the new policy were harder on girls in the bottom achievement quartile than on boys. Girls experienced a 19-percentage point drop in graduation rates after the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) was implemented, while the graduation rate for boys with similar academic profiles decreased by 12 percentage points over the same period. Likewise, graduation rates among the poorest-performing black, Hispanic, and Asian-American students declined by 15 to 19 percentage points following the enactment of the exit-exam policy. The comparable graduation-rate drop for white students in the same achievement quartile was 1 percentage point.
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Massachusetts; New Jersey
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System