An independent evaluation of the California High School Exit Exam has found that progress has been made in the development of the test overall and in the state's efforts to provide students with the opportunity to learn the material on the exam.
Starting with the high school class of 2004, California students must pass the exit exam - in addition to meeting other criteria - to get a high school diploma.
Results of the "Preliminary Year 2 Evaluation Report" presented to the state Board of Education found "no significant problems" with the first run of the exit exam. The exam was given this past spring on a voluntary basis to approximately 80 percent of the freshman enrolled in California high schools, according to the board of education.
A summary of the report by the Human Resources Research Organization, an independent evaluator based in Alexandria, Va., said, "the most striking overall feature was how seriously the students took the test."
The report also recommended that the legislature and the state Board of Education keep the current testing time line for now and that for future classes, testing should be delayed until the 10th grade.
"The fact that significant numbers of ninth-graders have not yet mastered the standards covered by the (exit exam) is not surprising," the report said. "...many of the standards are covered by courses most students do not take until the 10th grade.
The report also cited the need to continue consideration options for students with disabilities and English-language learners.
"The findings and recommendations in the evaluation underscore the need for the Legislature to approve Governor Gray Davis' proposal for a $200 million program to help the lowest performing schools to improve instruction," said Reed Hastings, president of the State Board of Education.
Hastings said the report also bolsters arguments for passage of AB 1609, legislation by Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, D-Montebello, which would set the tenth grade as the testing year for the high school exit exam, beginning the 2001-2002 school year. Each pupil would take the exit exam in the 10th grade and would continue to have multiple chances to pass the exam.