- Improving data analysis, use, and reporting
- Transitioning assessment systems
The goals of K-12 education are many, not the least of which is to prepare citizens for post-high school activities such as higher education, joining the workforce, and military service. Many states have adopted high school exit examinations to ensure all graduating seniors have mastered a specified set of standards. Currently 26 states administer exit exams and eight of these states have aligned the exams to college and career readiness standards such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We will discuss the varied implementations of high school exit exams in four states as well as a national perspective.
Two participating states use end-of-course (EOC) tests. Virginia students must pass a certain number of the EOC tests to earn a diploma. Virginia has not adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) but has adopted new content standards and developed new EOC tests aligned to the CCSS in mathematics and English. Virginia has worked with both high school and college faculty to develop “college path” cut scores for the new Algebra II, EOC reading, and EOC writing tests.
Georgia is transitioning away from exit exams (except in Writing) in favor of EOCT. Georgia was already phasing out exit exams when the state adopted CCSS. Georgia's EOCTs will contribute to the student’s course grade, but a student will not be required to pass the EOCT in order to graduate.
Two participating states administer exit exams independent of course enrollments. The Florida College System is open access—any student with a high school diploma is eligible for admission. Florida administers a high school exit exam and a separate customized college placement assessment is required for every student with scores within a certain range on the high school exit exam. Taking the college placement assessment while still in high school provides an opportunity for postsecondary preparatory instruction for those students whose scores indicate a need for additional preparation. High school students who meet or exceed the state-approved cut scores are eligible for enrollment in college level courses through dual enrollment provided they meet the high school GPA requirement.
HumRRO recently completed a two-year study on behalf of the California Department of Education of the relationships between high school exit examination scores and post-high school outcomes. In a cooperative venture with several local education agencies, HumRRO gathered senior survey responses, college placement exam results, and National Student Clearinghouse Student Tracker data, and analyzed the relationships between and among these data sources and exit exam scores. HumRRO will summarize findings and lessons learned regarding this sort of collaborative investigation.
The Center on Education Policy at George Washington University (CEP) has reported on state high school exit exam policies for the past 11 years. For its 2012 report, State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition, CEP surveyed state education department personnel. The report author will present information related to the alignment of exit exams with college- and career-readiness standards; the use of results from exit exams by postsecondary institutions; state policies requiring high school students to take college admission and placement exams (like the SAT and ACT); and the impact of the Common Core State Standards and common assessments on exit exam policies.
As states transition to CCSS and/or the assessments being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the use of state assessment results by higher education, and perhaps employers, will continue to grow in prominence. We hope the insights of these presenters will promote an informed discussion of considerations in building a sturdy bridge between high school and life beyond.