State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition
Center on Education Policy
After more than a decade of growing reliance on high school exit exams, states are rethinking how they use these popular assessments, a new Center on Education Policy (CEP) report finds. Eight of the 26 states with exit exams to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or other college- and career-readiness standards, and 10 more states plan to do so in the near future, according to “State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition,” the 11th annual report on high school exit exams by CEP at George Washington. Aligning exit exam policies to more rigorous standards will almost certainly impact the performance of students taking the exams, the report notes. Passing rates on exit exams already vary among states, and these rates tend to be lower for minority and poor students, students with disabilities, and English language learners. The report also notes that despite potential concerns regarding the impact of more rigorous high school exit exams on student performance, very few postsecondary education institutions pay attention to exit exam results when making decisions about student admissions, course placement, or awarding scholarships, according to the report. At least 14 CCSS-adopting states intend to maintain a requirement for high school students to pass an exam to graduate. Reductions in education budgets have also affected state high school exit exams, according to the report.