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ARE CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS READY FOR THE EXIT EXAM?

Abstract

On April 21, 2005, UCLA’s Institute for Democracy and Access (IDEA) published a policy brief raising a series of questions about California’s readiness for the California Exit Exam (CAHSEE). The policy brief challenged the conclusion of the state’s independent evaluator, Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), that California schools have made great progress in providing all students with opportunities to learn the material covered on the Exit Exam. IDEA researchers Holme and Rogers concluded that HumRRO’s own “data reveals that many California schools still are not adequately preparing students for success on the CAHSEE.” In correspondence in early May, HumRRO’s President Lauress Wise argued that the IDEA researchers misunderstood HumRRO’s data. The differences between HumRRO and IDEA researchers are not merely academic. The questions raised are of critical importance to current policy discussions about the implementation of the Exit Exam. In an effort to inform this debate, Holme and Rogers have re-examined HumRRO’s data. This new policy brief summarizes the evidence on the four questions of greatest interest to policy makers: 1) Do all California students have the opportunity to learn the material covered on the Exit Exam? 2) Are students in need of help being identified and supported? 3) How many students will pass the Exit Exam? 4) What is the impact of the Exit Exam on dropout rates?

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