Up until the year 2006 California high school students could graduate from high school without being required to pass the CAHSEE. The high school students who graduated before 2006 were able to graduate without demonstrating to California that they had obtained the necessary skills to graduate. Based on the CAHSEE results California public high schools can evaluate whether students have enough math and English skills to graduate from high school. Since 2006 many students have given many reasons to why passing the CAHSEE shouldn’t be a requirement for them to graduate, but there are also many reasons to why passing the CAHSEE should remain a requirement. All high school students should be required to pass the CAHSEE to get a diploma because the CAHSEE tests basic skills, helps schools find problem areas, and shows that the student earned the diploma.
The skills that are tested in the CAHSEE are necessary for everyday life after high school. According to Jack O’ Connell in the article titled “Why the California High School Exit Exam Works”, “To survive in the rapidly changing world beyond high school students must develop a mastery of the fundamental skills in English and math that are measured by the California High School Exit Exam” (1). To fill out a job application a person must have the English skills which are tested by the CAHSEE. Jazmine Livingston in her article entitled “Making an ‘Exit’” states, “And even something as normal as a rental lease or a job application requires the English proficiency that the test also measures” (1). If a person with poor English skills fills out a job application, his or her English skills are probably going to be reflected in the application; thus that person will probably not get the job. Also in order for a person to do a resume he or she needs enough English skills to also pass the CAHSEE. Resumes are hard to construct, especially if a person has poor English skills. Many of the jobs require people to have the basic English and math skills that are tested in the CAHSEE. Jazmine Livingston in her article “Making an ‘Exit’” declares, “After all, you may not realize it, but you use basic math in about every job You can think of” (1). Thus proficiency in the English and math skills that are tested by the CAHSEE are necessary in order for people to excel in every day life after high school.
The CAHSEE helps schools to pin point the problem areas for students, and allows schools to address those problem areas. According to Test Tools.com, “The CAHSEE helps identify 10th grade students who are not developing fundamental skills that are essential for life after high school and encourages California school districts to give these students the attention and resources needed to help them achieve these skills during their high school years” (1). If any students in one school do poorly in one section of the math portion of the CAHSEE, that school will be able to spend more time teaching students on the portion they did badly in. The first step to helping students have the basic skills to graduate from high school is for teachers to focus more on students’ problem areas. Students can also receive help after school, based on the section of the CAHSEE they had problems with. Students are able to get more individualized help to improve basic English and math skills after school if their problem areas are identified. Some schools give out booklets to help students with their problem areas so that they can do better in the next CAHSEE as well as in school. The booklets that are given to students also help them to know what skills they are expected to have. Therefore the CAHSEE results help schools to address students’ problem areas by identifying them.
Students should not just have diplomas handed out to them, they should earn them. Passing the CAHSEE demonstrates that students have learned enough basic skills in high school to earn their diploma. If students did not pass the CAHSEE and still received a diploma, then the diploma would just be a piece of paper and not a symbol of a student’s achievement and knowledge. Students who do not pass the CAHSEE do not deserve to graduate from high school because they do not put enough effort into learning basic skills. Aja McNeil in his interview with Eduwest states, I passed the exit exam the first time. It’s not really that hard; it’s basic math and English. I had a few friends that didn’t pass- but they studied hard and passed the second time. I feel like if we didn’t pass the first 2 or 3 times, maybe we shouldn’t graduate. A lot of teachers had helped us to prepare for it—and yeah, there was a lot of pressure to pass in order to graduate— but it motivated me to do well. (8). After all the CAHSEE only tests basic skills, so if a student doesn’t even make an effort to learn those basic skills why should he deserve a diploma? In addition most students who pass the CAHSEE work hard to pass the test and their classes in order to graduate and therefore earn their diploma. Duante Haynes in the article titled “Nearly 7,000 graduate” published by the San Diego Union-Tribune stated, “At first I didn’t take the test seriously, but once I realized I couldn’t get my diploma without passing it [the CAHSEE], I began to study for it and attended Saturday tutoring classes. I am actually proud of myself, I made it, and I believe the test does serve a purpose” (7). The CAHSEE motivates students to work harder in school. Thus by passing the CAHSEE students can be proud to say they earned their diploma, and were not just handed one.
The CAHSEE test was designed not to punish students, but to help them, and to make sure that California schools are completing their mission of educating their students. Even though many students may find the CAHSEE challenging it is only a basic skills test. The CAHSEE allows teachers and students to work closely together towards a better education. By working hard, and with the help of their schools students can pass the CAHSEE, and earn their high school diploma.
Ali, Russlynn. "California at the Crossroads." The Education Trust-West. 22 Aug. 2006. 09 Aug. 2008 . "CAHSEE." Test Tools. 29 July 2008 .
Connell, Jack O. "WHY THE CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAM WORKS." California Progress Report. 08 June 2006. 29 July 2008 . Gao, Helen. "Nearly 7,000 graduate." Sign on San Diego. 21 June 2006.09 Aug. 2008 . Livingston, Jazmine. "Making an 'Exit'" PBS. 19 May 2006. 29 July 2008 .