Education E-Alert: Striving for Excellence In Our Schools
A Look at the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)
As parents, teachers, administrators and public policy makers, we want our students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to graduate from high school and enroll in college. One condition of earning a high school diploma is passing the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). Therefore, we need to ensure all of our students are prepared to take and pass the exam.
The Q&A below defines the purpose and importance of the CAHSEE, as well as the most recent data on Orange County CAHSEE results.
Q. What is the CAHSEE?
A. The primary purpose of the CAHSEE is to ensure that pupils who graduate from California’s public high schools can demonstrate a certain grade-level competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. All California public school students, except eligible students with disabilities, must satisfy the CAHSEE requirement in order to receive a high school diploma.
Q. What are the CAHSEE requirements and how is it scored?
A. The CAHSEE has two parts: English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics (Math). Scale scores used for the CAHSEE range from 275 to 450. A scale score of 350 or higher is necessary to pass each part of the CAHSEE. All students are required to take the CAHSEE for the first time in 10th grade, and only need to retake the section, or sections, they have not yet passed.
The ELA section includes 79 multiple choice questions, and requires students to respond to a prompt with an essay. The ELA section tests students at a 10th-grade level, and requires a score of 60% to pass. The essay portion is scaled one to four.
The Math section consists of 92 multiple choice questions. The Math section tests students at an 8th-grade level, and requires a score of 55% to pass.
The CAHSEE has several scheduled testing dates for each school year. The CAHSEE is offered in July, October, November, December, February, March and May. Districts select their testing dates from this schedule. Scheduled dates for your school district for the 2010â€“11 school year can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) website.
Q. What about English learners?
A. For speakers of English as a second language, the ELA section is certainly the most difficult. Students who are English learners are permitted to take the CAHSEE with specific test assistance if they receive assistance regularly in the classroom. For example, English learners are permitted to hear the test directions in their primary language or use a word-for-word translation glossary.
Q. When do the CAHSEE scores come out?
A. Parents or guardians receive their child’s CAHSEE results in the mail about seven weeks after their child takes the exam. Parents or guardians should keep a copy of the results for their records. Overall results for each school, school district, county and the state are available on the CAHSEE scores database.
The information below shows the passing rates for high school students in both the ELA and Math portions of the CAHSEE for the 2008-09 school year.
CAHSEE PASSING RATE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR THE 2008-2009 SCHOOL YEAR*
Location Passed ELA Passed Math
Statewide 61% 61%
Orange County 70% 72%
Santa Ana Unified School District 48% 54%
Garden Grove Unified School District 65% 73%
Anaheim Union High School District 64% 68%
*Source: California Department of Education, DataQuest, CAHSEE Research Files 2008-009
Q. What happens if a student does not pass the CAHSEE?
A. Students who do not pass one or both parts of the CAHSEE in the 10th grade have two opportunities in the 11th grade, and five opportunities in 12th grade, to retake the part(s) of the examination not yet passed.
It is important to get assistance as soon as possible if your child fails the CAHSEE. School districts are required to offer additional instruction to assist students who do not pass the examination. Instructional programs may be offered during the summer, before or after school, on Saturday, or during intersession, and some schools offer test preparation materials online. During the school year, students and their parents should contact their high school counselor for more information. High school principals are on campus during the summer months and will take calls regarding CAHSEE.
I hope this Education E-Alert has given you a good understanding of California’s commitment to ensuring our students graduate from high school with the skills they need to engage in today’s challenging economy. If you would like information on other education policy issues in the future, please let us know by contacting Carol Chamberlain of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.