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Brown Waives Exit Exam Requirement For 5,000 High School Grads

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

An estimated 5,000 high school seniors who have not passed California’s high school exit exam are now cleared for graduation under urgency legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday.

The students had planned to take the exam in July but never got the opportunity because the state canceled the test.

California has switched to the new Common Core State Standards, but the current exit exam tests on the state’s old curriculum. That’s raised the question of whether to overhaul the exam – or eliminate it.

A separate bill would suspend the exit exam requirement for the next two school years and create a panel to study the state’s options.

“I think there is purpose to an exit exam,“ says the bill's author, Democratic Sen. Carol Liu. “But I also think that perhaps it’s another opportunity to take a look at what is really important in a high school diploma.”

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff opposes the suspension or elimination of the high school exit exam.

“The education establishment – specifically, the teachers unions – hate accountability,“ Huff says. “They hate the exit exam. Because if you hold schools accountable, eventually you’re gonna hold teachers accountable – and they don’t want that.”

Liu's bill is up for a key committee vote on Thursday.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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