MORONGO BASIN — Since 2006, students have been required to pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in order to graduate. However, following an abrupt cancellation of the test that was to be administered this month, the graduation status of thousands of California students, including some in the Morongo Basin, is in question.
The CAHSEE is a two-part test that measures student’s abilities in English/language art and mathematics, to ensure that individuals who graduate from public high schools can demonstrate grade-level competency in these subjects. The test is first administered to students in 10th grade, and if they do not pass it then, they get several opportunities to retake it before graduation rolls around.
The cancellation of the July testing date was not entirely unexpected, as the contract with the administrators of the exam recently expired. Aside from the contract expiration, the suspension of the current exam stems from the change in curriculum to Common Core standards.
Senate Bill 172 has already passed the Senate and could suspend the exit exam requirement immediately so that the students in limbo are allowed to graduate without passing the exam, if the state follows the Assembly Committee on Education’s recommendations.
“The intent, then, is to suspend the CAHSEE requirement beginning with those members of the class of 2015 who have not passed it, and end with the class of 2018,” a report from the Assembly hearing states.
The bill also requires the California Department of Education to provide recommendations to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on the continuation of the high school exit examination, and on alternative methods of satisfying high school graduation requirements.
In the event that SB 172 does not become law, another education bill requests that language be adopted to continue the administration of the CAHSEE.
“We have a few seniors impacted by the cancellation, but we’ve gone forward with scheduling of remediation classes for those students who have yet to pass the test,” Morongo Unified School District Superintendent Tom Baumgarten said.
The California Department of Education is working closely with the Legislature to determine what the state will do during the suspension period and any impact this may have on students in the class of 2016 and others who have yet to meet this graduation requirement.
Baumgarten believes the requirement will be suspended for the affected students.
“They have been guaranteed a certain number of opportunities to pass, and one of those has been taken away,” Baumgarten said. “I think they won’t penalize those who’ve missed this final chance.”