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High School Exit Examinations

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State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition

Author(s): Shelby McIntosh
Published: September 19, 2012

CEP’s 11th annual report on state high school exit exams finds that states are embracing higher standards on their exit exams, which means schools and students will feel the impact. The report, based on data collected from state education department personnel in 45 states, discusses the present status of state exit exam policies, the future of these policies as states implement the Common Core State Standards and common assessments, and lessons that can be learned from states’ past experiences with implementing new exit exam policies.

State Profiles for Exit Exam Policies Through 2011-12

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State High School Tests: Changes in State Policies and the Impact of the College and Career Readiness Movement

Author(s): Shelby McIntosh
Published: December 8, 2011

This 10th installment of CEP’s annual study of high school exit exams and other assessments finds that fewer states are requiring students to pass a high school exit exam, though testing in other areas has increased. The report, based on a survey of all 50 state departments of education, discusses state policies associated with high school exit exams, college entrance exams (such as the ACT or SAT), and college and career readiness assessments.

State Profiles for Assessment Policies Through 2010-11

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State High School Tests: Exit Exams and Other Assessments

Author(s): Shelby Dietz
Published: December 21, 2010

CEP’s 9th annual report on high school exit exams discusses new developments in state high school exit exam policies and how students enrolled in school in states with these policies are affected. This year’s report finds that 28 states required high school exit exams in the 2009-10 school year (up from 26 in 2009), and public schools in those states enroll 83 percent of the nation’s students of color and more than three-quarters of the country’s low-income pupils. For the first time, this year’s report also includes information about graduation requirements in states that do not require exit exams.

Key findings from this year's report:

View all CEP videos about State High School Tests: Exit Exams and Other Assessments.

View Annual Report

CEP Releases New Report on State Exit Exams

Author(s): CEP
Published: December 21, 2010

This report draws from CEP's eight-year study of high school exit exams to identify long-term trends in state policies and student performance. It highlights a growing trend among states to establish alternate pathways to graduation for students who are struggling to pass exit exams.

Key Findings from this year's report

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

What are the innovations in this year's report?

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

What is the impact of students of color and those living in poverty?

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

How will the common standards impact exit exams?

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

What is the equity challenge that impacts schools concerning exit exams?

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

What should policy makers take away from this report?

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

What do states need to do as far as remediation if a student fails?

         

Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

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State High School Exit Exams 2009 Annual Report: Trends in Test Programs, Alternate Pathways, and Pass Rates

Author(s): Ying Zhang
Published: November 5, 2009

The report draws from CEP's eight-year study of high school exit exams to identify long-term trends in state policies and student performance. It highlights a growing trend among states to establish alternate pathways to graduation for students who are struggling to pass exit exams. The report also analyzes exit exam pass rates and finds that 11 of the 16 states showed an average annual growth in the proportion of students passing the test in reading and 13 states showed average annual growth in mathematics. Although many states narrowed the gaps in initial pass rates between the various student subgroups over the years, the gaps remain large in both subjects.

View Report

Guest Editorial in the Tucson Citizen

Author(s): Jack Jennings
Published: May 24, 2009

On May 14, 2009, the Tucson Citizen published this guest editorial from CEP that addresses Arizona's high school exam policies for alternate paths for graduation and the state's testing policy for high school students who are learning English. The newspaper invited Jack Jennings and Ying Zhang to write this editorial because of research CEP conducted in five Arizona high schools. This research resulted in two reports, Conflicts Between State Policy and School Practice: Learning from Arizona's Experience with High School Exam Policies and Caught in the Middle: Arizona's English Language Learners and the High School Exit Exam, which are posted on the CEP Web site under the "High School Exit Examinations" tab.

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Conflicts Between State Policy and School Practice: Learning from Arizona’s Experience with High School Exam Policies

Author(s): Ying Zhang
Published: April 7, 2009

This report looks at how local educators perceive and act on state policies designed to help at-risk students and English language learners achieve the levels of proficiency needed to pass state high school exit examinations and graduate. Our findings are based on data from school observations and interviews with more than 50 school administrators, teachers, and other school staff in Arizona.

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State High School Exit Exams 2008 Annual Report: Moving Toward End-of-Course Exams

Author(s): Dalia Zabala, Dr. Angela Minnici, Jennifer McMurrer, Liza Briggs
Published: August 13, 2008

This report examines the new developments in the implementation of state high school exit exams in the 26 states that currently implement or plan to implement these tests. The report specifically focuses on the states’ move away from minimum-competency and comprehensive exams toward end-of-course exams.

View Report

State High School Exit Exams: 2008 Policy Briefs

Author(s): Dalia Zabala and Angela Minnici
Published: March 25, 2008

Policy Brief 1: A Move Toward End-of-Course Exams
Author(s): Dalia Zabala
States continue to move toward end-of-course exams. The use of end-of-course exams as a graduation requirement began with one state in 2002, four states in 2007, and an expected 12 states in 2015. This brief illustrates this shift and summarizes some of the upcoming changes.
Published: January 31, 2008 

Policy Brief 2: Patterns in Gaps in Pass Rates
Author(s): Dalia Zabala and Angela Minnici
In this brief, the Center on Education Policy highlights two patterns in state high school exit exam pass rates. States with higher percentages of white students passing exit exams also tend to report higher percentage pass rates for students of color. Furthermore, states with higher overall pass rates tend to report smaller achievement gaps between subgroups. Why do these relationships exit?
Published: February 28, 2008 

Policy Brief 3: Students with Disabilities
Author(s): Dalia Zabala
States with mandated high school exit exams consistently report low pass rates for students with disabilities. These low pass rates have led educators to implement various intervention and remediation programs. Yet these gaps persist until the end of 12th grade, even though students have had multiple opportunities to retake the exam. This brief highlights some of the most common alternative paths to graduation for students with disabilities in states that require students to achieve passing scores on exit exams to receive a high school diploma. 
Published: March 25, 2008 

Availability:  Policy Brief 1  |  Policy Brief 2  |  Policy Brief 3

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Caught in the Middle: Arizona's English Language Learners and the High School Exit Exam

Author(s): Angela Minnici, Dalia Zabala, Alice P. Bartley
Published: November 13, 2007

In this report, we present a portrait of how some Arizona educators, students, and families are faring with the state exit exam, known as Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards or AIMS. In particular, we examine how Arizona’s exit exam policy is influencing the education of English language learners (ELLs)—a group of students that is caught in the middle of challenges and controversy about exit exams and education in Arizona. This report also attempts to identify the effects of the exit exam on ELLs in Arizona and to understand why districts and high schools in Arizona continue to struggle to raise pass rates for ELLs. 

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State High School Exit Exams 2007 Annual Report: Working to Raise Test Scores

Author(s): Dalia Zabala, Dr. Angela Minnici, Jennifer McMurrer, Dr. Deanna Hill, Alice P. Bartley, and Jack Jennings
Published: September 6, 2007

This report looks at the new developments in the implementation of state high school exit exams in the 26 states that currently implement or plan to implement these exams. The report focuses on the efforts made at the state and local level to raise initial pass rates for all students, help students who fail on their first attempt, and close the achievement gap.

Some information on Mississippi’s profile, page 111, has been updated (December 2007).

View Report

"It's Different Now": How Exit Exams Are Affecting Teaching and Learning in Jackson and Austin

Author(s): Dalia Zabala, Angela Minnici
Published: March 1, 2007

Since much of the previous research on exit exams, including CEP's own work, has looked at national patterns of implementation and passing rates, this study aimed to benefit policy and practice by focusing on the local level. In particular, we conducted case studies in Jackson and Austin that examined how classroom instruction and other initiatives are preparing students for exit exams, as well as how these exams are affecting students’ engagement in learning and their plans for postsecondary education.

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State High School Exit Exams: 2007 Policy Briefs

Author(s): Dalia Zabala
Published: January 1, 2007

Policy Brief 1: States Continue Trend Toward Higher-Level Exit Exams, More Subjects Tested
A snapshot of main features of state exit exams taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2006 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: A Challenging Year.

Policy Brief 2: Growth in High School Exit Exams Levels Off But Minority Students Affected Disproportionately
A snapshot on the number of states currently implementing or planning to implement state mandated high school exit exams, and the percentages of minority students impacted. Information taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2006 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: A Challenging Year. 

Policy Brief 3: Gaps Persist in High School Exit Exams Pass Rates
A snapshot at changes in initial pass rates for all students and each of the subgroups from 2004-05. Information taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2006 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: A Challenging Year. 

View Policy Brief

The Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams

Author(s): Hoor Bhanpuri and Susan K. Sexton
Published: September 19, 2006

The Center on Education Policy together with Learning Point Associates hosted a Webcast titled “The Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams” on September 19th from 2-3 p.m. (EST). The purpose of this Webcast was to provide information to educational stakeholders about the costs of high school exit exam policies at the state and district levels.

ACCESS THE WEBCAST (Please use Replay # 1494134404) 

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State High School Exit Exams 2006 Annual Report: A Challenging Year

Author(s): Nancy Kober, Dalia Zabala, Naomi Chudowsky, Victor Chudowdsky, Keith Gayler, and Jennifer McMurrer
Published: August 1, 2006

This study of state high school exit exams analyzes the challenges that states faced in 2005-06 as they implemented these exams and describes the remediation services and other support that states provide to help students pass the exams.

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State High School Exit Exams: 2006 Policy Briefs

Author(s): Dalia Zabala
Published: March 1, 2006

Policy Brief 1: Basic Features
A snapshot of main or basic features of state exit exams taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2005 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: States Try Harder but Gaps Persist.
Published: December 01, 2005  Availability:  PDF 

Policy Brief 2: Effects on Traditionally Underserved Students
Snapshot of data on traditionally underserved students taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2005 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: States Try Harder but Gaps Persist.
Published: January 01, 2006  

Policy Brief 3: Special Problems Affecting English Language Learners
Snapshot of results on problems with English language learners in regard to exit exams taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2005 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: States Try Harder but Gaps Persist
Published: February 01, 2006 

Policy Brief 4: Standards Differ from the No Child Left Behind Act
Snapshot of results on differences between states' and of the No Child Left Behind Act's requirements on graduation taken from the Center on Education Policy's August 2005 report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: STATES TRY HARDER BUT GAPS PERSIST.
Published: March 01, 2006  

View Policy Brief

State High School Exit Exams 2005 Annual Report: States Try Harder, But Gaps Persist

Author(s): Patricia Sullivan, Margery Yeager, Eileen O'Brien, Nancy Kober, Keith Gayler, Naomi Chudowsky, Victor Chudowsky, Jana Wooden, Jack Jennings, Diane Stark Rentner
Published: August 1, 2005

Study of state exit exam results showing that despite innovations by some states and increased state funding and support to improve pass rates achievement gaps still exist.

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How Have High School Exit Exams Changed Our Schools: Some Perspectives from Virginia and Maryland

Author(s): Keith Gayler
Published: June 9, 2005

Report on the impact of exit exams in a Maryland and a Virginia school district in the winter of 2004-2005.

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State High School Exit Exams 2004 Annual Report: A Maturing Reform

Author(s): CEP
Published: August 1, 2004

Preview of findings from the 2004 CEP report, STATE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMS: A Maturing Reform.

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Pay Now or Pay Later: The Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams

Author(s): CEP
Published: May 1, 2004

Preview of findings from the CEP's report, PAY NOW OR PAY LATER: The Hidden Costs of High School Exit Exams, looks at the extra costs of implementing the No Child Left Behind Act's mandated exit exams.

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State High School Exit Exams 2003 Annual Report: Put to the Test

Author(s): Keith Gayler, Naomi Chudowsky, Nancy Kober, Madlene Hamilton
Published: August 1, 2003

Results and findings from second year of state high school exit exams mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

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Measuring The Cost of State High School Exit Exams

Author(s): Douglas Rose, John Myers
Published: February 1, 2003

Using Indiana as the case study researchers examined the costs of instituting statewide exit exams.

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State High School Exit Exams 2002 Annual Report

Author(s): Naomi Chudowsky, Nancy Kober, Keith Gayler, Madlene Hamilton
Published: August 1, 2002

This report is the first in an annual series of reports on exit exams as part of the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

View Report
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