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Knowledge From the Field

Passing the California High School Exit Exam: Have Recent Policies Improved Student Performance?

Published: June 2012

Publisher(s): Public Policy Institute of California

View Report (22 pages; 3.08MB; PDF)

Area of Focus:  Accountability; Educational Standards


This report evaluates the effectiveness of three support services in helping struggling students pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). The report highlights the need to help students before they first take the exam in grade 10 and introduces the CAHSEE Early Warning Model, a forecasting tool to identify at-risk students in earlier grades.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=Assembly Bill 128, which provides funding to tutor students, primarily in grades 11 and 12, did not help students pass the exam.

=Assembly Bill 347, which provides support services for students who failed the exam by the end of grade 12, and San Diego Unified School District’s program, offering exam prep classes for students in grades 11 and 12, helped only a small percentage of students—an estimated 1.5 to 3 percent of students who failed the exam in grade 10 later passed the test as a result of these interventions.

=Early intervention is a more promising approach for helping struggling students, since math and English skills are taught throughout elementary and middle schools, tutoring and extra classes are less expensive than re-enrolling students after four years of high school, and steady support spread over many grades is more likely to have a lasting effect than 11th-hour interventions.

Focus: San Diego, CA

Subjects/Keywords: Evaluation; Exit Exam; Support Services; Tutoring

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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