High School Diplomas in CA—No Accountability Required


Is it possible to get a high school diploma without having to learn anything?

In California, yes!

At issue is the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which was implemented in 2004 to assess whether students have learned basic math and English, requiring only a 55% score to pass. Pass the test, get the diploma.

Educators are revamping the test in order to align it with Common Core standards.

This past summer, several thousand students intended to take the test but learned that Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to suspend the exam through 2018 while also retroactively suspending it back to 2004. It would be “unfair” to give the class of 2015 a diploma without testing, so let’s give everyone a diploma without a test!

Thousands of students who never took the test (or who failed the test) will now receive diplomas. An estimated 249,000 students failed the test from 2006–2014.

But no problem! California will still award a diploma.

So many lessons can be learned from this scenario. We can draw three conclusions:

  1. If funding and other measures are tied to a Common Core curriculum, then plans should be in place to implement and assess its success or lack thereof. This is nothing more than planning ahead.
  2. If prior assessments have been so “dumbed-down” as to require only the minimum in achievement and many students can’t even pass these tests, problems are even more serious than we have been led to believe.
  3. If something is not working, it is not wise to replace it with something that has not been proven to be effective or possible. This is foolishness.

Common Core and all the confusion surrounding its implementation simply replaced a bad system with another unproven, bad system.

Meanwhile, a quarter of a million California high school graduates are hitting the job market with few skills or qualifications.

The emperor is still unclothed. The solution is not to adorn him with expensive cufflinks.

Parents, are you considering removing your child from the public education system? At the National Center for Life and Liberty, we stand for true parental choice in education.