In Defense Of The CAHSEE

In a stack of papers called Testing.

  • Feb
  • 10
  • 2006

You study hard in your classes and earn passing grades. You stay on task during your school day, dutifully complete the work waiting at home, stay out of trouble, and attend school as often as your health permits. The remaining hurdle, a test that assesses your ability to show mastery of several 8th grade and many 10th grade state standards in English and mathematics, wavers in the distance, flapping in the wind of your graduation gown. Will you try everything within your power to pass this test?

Of course not! You’ll sue! And many adults will back you up.

Lawsuits against the CAHSEE pop up in the news every now and again. I’ve seen quite a few reports about the latest lawsuit and a thought has been running through my head.

What Took You So Long?

If real problems with the test exist, why did people wait until the last minute to bring these issues up and to bring them into court? Is it because your kids are finally up against the fence and have to face the fact that they’ve squandered their 12 years of free public education? We’ve known about this test as a graduation requirement for the class of 2006 since 2004 and the legislation for the test passed in 1999.

No Opportunity Means A Problem With Schools, Not The Test

Lead attorney Arturo Gonzales makes a good point that “many students in California have not been given a fair opportunity to learn the material on the exam.” That’s a horrible thought, one that indicates bad teachers and bad schools. But I have no idea how he could possibly prove it to be true. Nor do I know how he has the gall to come out and say something that I believe would legally be defined as slander, though I’m not certain since I’m no lawyer.

But let’s pretend that Gonzales is correct. Does that point out a problem with the exam or with schools? Certainly, it points to a problem with both, but an exam is simply one thing and is easily modified. Schools represent a system and if that system is broken, that’s a huge issue that affects 100% of the population, much larger than a single exam. If what Gonzales is saying is correct and it actually can be proven, then that’s as loud a call for complete school reform as I’ve ever heard. Sadly, instead of using this idea to usher in systematic change, the idea is used to attack a test, perhaps one of the only tests that students are actually held accountable for and upon which they simply must perform, taking some responsibility for their own education.

One Giant Step

The CAHSEE, the best thing to happen to the public education system in a long time, is not flawless; it’s a gigantic step in the right direction, though. Now, if we could use the CAHSEE to replace silly, meaningless exams, like the battery of tests that fall under the STAR designation, and encourage colleges to consider CAHSEE scores when weeding through applicants, we’d have a test that students would really care about doing well on.

How Do You Sleep At Night?

Shame on adults who encourage students suing the state for requiring a test that demands proficiency or even mastery of standards that should have been covered 2 years prior to graduation. Shame on lawyers who accept these suits and build cases against a test that will at least begin to set a bar for those who want a high school diploma to mean something.

If high school diplomas are to be significant, not everyone can earn one.

Now, I will admit that there seems to be something fishy with the lack of an alternative to a standardized test. My understanding is that the legislation mandating the CAHSEE states that there be an alternative made available to those who choose to pass this requirement another way than the traditional test. Go ahead and sue on those grounds; I’m happy to support such a case since the state should have been working on that alternative this entire time.

But to sue on the grounds that the material hasn’t been covered in class is ridiculous. If a child is in a class that doesn’t teach him or her what’s needed to pass the CAHSEE, the parent shares blame for not complaining to the school, withdrawing the student from the class, transferring from the school, or requiring the child to attend after school study sessions for the test. At some point, a child must take accountability for his or her learning (or lack thereof). You can lead a horse to water…

191 comments

1. kalya says:

[6/24/2009 - 8:44 am]

i agree with the issue about special ed student shouldn’t take the CAHSEE. because some students just dont really have the ability of passing it reguardless its just some special ed students like myself haven’t passed it because of what we are nt being taught in class its only amont of thing that i could remember before i take the CAHSEE i be trying my best like i be putting my heart into it cause my thought when i first take it is, “oh yeah ima passs this or ima atleast go a lil over the score”.

2. tatayana says:

[7/24/2009 - 8:00 am]

you know what people that think special ed student should take the test is stupid i only in the 11 th grade i stilll have nt pass the test i feel bad because my school have nt thought it to me at all . yes im in ESL .everytime people tell e oh i pass the test im feeel so stupid its not funny

3. JoAnne says:

[8/15/2009 - 1:31 pm]

Wow. Lots of passion on both sides of the “argument” here. It’s good when people care. What follows are my thoughts as a California educator with 18 years’ experience, the last 3 being teaching the CAHSEE prep class for juniors and seniors who have taken, and failed, the test at least once.

The CAHSEE ELA measures the ability to read and write in English. If you have a certain level of literacy, you will pass. If you don’t, you will struggle. There are questions on the test that are ridiculously convoluted and far too dependent on personal interpretation, but the majority are straightforward, fair, and a fairly decent indicator of whether the test-taker has the ability to decode and comprehend the written word.

I tell the above to my students at the beginning of each year, after I’ve given them the chance to wail and gnash their teeth at the injustice of it all. I say that, while it’s possible that they DO have enough literacy after all, and that maybe they just need to take the test more seriously the next time, if they couldn’t pass it the first time out of the gate, they need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Passing is evidence of *minimal* achievement. I can’t continue to let themselves and others delude them into thinking that their literacy skills are anything other than barely adequate at best. What a passing score (350) on the CAHSEE English test means in terms of a raw score varies from year to year, but it hovers around 50 or so correct questions out of a possible 72, assuming an essay score of at least 1.0. With an essay score of 2.0 or higher, the number of correct multiple-choice questions necessary is even lower. The bar is not set high, and I would be doing a grave disservice to my students to contribute to any false confidence they have about how well they read. I do so in as supportive a way as possible, but most of them (especially the students who get A’s and B’s in their classes) have been lied to for far too long. It would be malpractice for my doctor to fail to remind me EVERY time I see him that I’m 50 pounds overweight, even though it makes me feel bad about myself, and I use this example for my students. I *know* I’m fat, and I *know* what I would need to do to lose the weight if I chose to make it a priority, which I haven’t had to…yet. And, like with me and my weight, they now have a decision to make: the situation is not ideal, so what are they going to do about it? Luckily for them, I say, I know the secret to passing the CAHSEE ELA. And then I tell them what it is, and the year begins.

For the record, the standards addressed by the CAHSEE ELA are actually closer to those from grades 5-8, not 9/10. Which is actually a *good* thing, because the ELA standards after grade 8 are for the most part not well-conceived. It’s reasonable for the state of California to expect its high school graduates to be able to read and comprehend both expository and narrative text well enough to identify and understand things like main idea, cause and effect relationships, symbolism, how to support an interpretation or argument, figurative language, theme, author’s tone and purpose, standard English grammar, syntax, usage, and mechanics. All of these (and more) are contained in the late elementary and middle school standards, but once students move on to high school, the expectations become both unrealistic and unmeasurable. Should a high school graduate recognize an author’s use of ambiguity, irony, subtlety, and contradiction? Absolutely. But the standard says that freshmen and sophomores in high school should be able to “INTERPRET and EVALUATE” the *impact* of those things. I’m not even sure I — a college-educated voracious reader — even knows what that *means* much less how to show that I can do it. Fortunately there are few, if any, questions on the CAHSEE designed to assess a student’s mastery of that particular standard, or of any of the other equally convoluted expectations found in the ELA 11/12 Grade Level Standards.

The CAHSEE isn’t a perfect literacy assessment instrument, but it is, IMHO, a valid one.

4. Alyssa(: says:

[9/14/2009 - 7:38 pm]

i dont think its fairr that your saying (sheri) that sports arent important. They are too! they help kids stay out of trouble! and teaching immigrants isnt a waste of money! thats a lil ignorant if you ask me.

5. Sheri says:

[9/29/2009 - 10:19 am]

Alyssa –

When I say that sports aren’t important, it’s meant that they are NOT MORE important than one’s education. Sports do not get one through life. While they may keep kids out of trouble and such, one’s education is what truly prepares one for their future. Period, end of story. I know of many students that never participated in sports – primarily because they were too busy focusing on their education – that were never in any sort of trouble, not tagging/doing graffiti, not running amok on their parents names, etc. Sports are only a very small part – if at all – of the picture.

Also, when I say that teaching immigrants is a waste of money – it’s a direct reference to those whom are here ILLEGALLY!!! Illegal immigrants are using up resources – education and otherwise – that they have no business having access to, because they are here illegally. So, this is NOT being ignorant. I am tired of having my tax dollars – just like many Americans – spent on people who choose to break our laws. If we were talking LEGAL immigrants who abide by the laws and such, then that’s different altogether.

Be careful whom you call ignorant.

6. sam says:

[10/9/2009 - 7:51 pm]

Sheri, I haven’t read all of your position (mostly since your posts are so long :P), but here is a different side of the special-ed issue:

I personally know a special-ed helper that encourages these tests because she feels that this is a great opportunity for them to be stimulated and challenged and held accountable for their education. And this is coming from someone who deals with such children daily.
I understand your position on the issue, and many parents do oppose teachers on the topic of education, making this conflict unsurprising, in a way. So it all comes down to this: whether parents or professional educators know best.

Also, if we give those who do not pass the exam such diplomas, we are telling them that they will be able to function in this world. But really, how well can any person be able to function if they cannot do 8th grade math or 10th grade english?
Lawsuits have been filed on the claim that “I can’t function in the world, so why did you give me a diploma and lie to me and leave me unprepared for life!?!” and the students won. That is why the NCLB Act and CAHSEE came along.

I’m sure Alyssa was just cautioning you, and all the commentators. If we do not elaborate and clearly explain what we mean to say, people can misunderstand and become offended, which further inhibits effective communication of opinions.

And, of course, the idea of these kind of things are to spread such ideas.

7. Monta Vista Student says:

[10/19/2009 - 4:36 pm]

The CAHSEE was a piece of cake; just about everyone I know got 100% on it. If people who barely passed it got into the college that I couldn’t because I got C’s in my classes and they had A’s.. that’d be a bit insulting.
The test is just a way to pick out the people that actually learned everything they should have, from the people that are most certainly not ready for the real world. If people can’t do 8th grade material, why should they be given a diploma?

8. Mike says:

[10/30/2009 - 8:29 pm]

Wow. I am in awe ate the responces to the CAHSEE. This is rather sad. Not only is the CAHSEE one of the easiest test bar none, but it is also an exam that exemplifies America’s stupidity.

The CAHSEE test is EASY. I would be surpirsed if an eighth grader failed the English portion. As for the Math, well, that’s a tad harder, but still easy.

This is just sad. When everyone complains about their workload and maintaining their grades… I sure hope your damn grade is a 4.2 and that you are an AP student. As for sports? It’s not that hard to juggle athletics and education, unless you are a state champion, which from the constant bitching, I doubt you guys are.

450/450 biatch, no studying or any of that shit. Suck a nut. If you fail this exam you are NOT ready for a university.

9. Edgar says:

[12/15/2009 - 2:06 pm]

Seriously, I support the CAHSEE. I graduated Highs School with honors, won 2 scholarships, won 4 theatre awards and participated in all of hollywood high productions. I also took AP classes from English to US History… and I managed to do all this in 3 years.. yes. I am not an American student. I was born and raised in Mexico. California really needs to step up and raise the standards because to be honest, I didnt learn anything in high school. Really, nothing.. It is sad that students on AP classes dont know the difference between a verb and a noun or who the first president of the united states was.. reallys ad.
I was not a straight A student. my lowest grade was a C on tenth grade enlgish… yes, the first year i was in high school.

No, I was not a little wallflower, I actually went partying and so forth.. Never spent more than 2 hours studying for anything.. and I passed all my classes…
People, open your eyes.

Why do I support the CAHSEE? because students lack disipline and they really need to get their act together. Dont complain about school being hard, because it is not at all. What you Americans learn in 12 grade.. I learned it in the equivalent to 8 grade… so… really, you guys suck.

By the way I passed the CAHSEE on my first try and got on the top 10 scores of my high school.. IN BOTH ENGLISH AND MATH… really, how can I do it and you can’t? American?

Oh, you can also fin my name on a plaque at the HHS museum.. thank you.

10. tyrese says:

[1/14/2010 - 1:44 pm]

I think this whole CAHSE thing is unfair for those who are attending school in the US AND DIDN’T NOT up here in the US,I ment someone who has a different experience for other Country elementary teaching,will that person be force to take the CAHSEE?!? I don’t think so!

11. victor says:

[1/24/2010 - 11:35 pm]

I will say that for a student the english is his second lenguage is very hard to pass the CAHSSE at the first time. and I’m talking for all those students that are not born here in the united states. I’m latino and I just have 2 years that I moved from my country..and the first time that i took the test I did not know anything about this test…..so for consecuence I fail the test. I felt horrible about it. because if I could pass the test I wasn’t gonna graduete… so I have decided that the next time I was going to prepare my self for the exam.and fanaly I passed the englesh part…because I think this test is very important and it has to be taken seriously in order to graduete from high school. so if I have passed the CAHSSE that have a few years in the U.S. If You are latino like me you can do it too…….

12. Mr. H says:

[3/3/2010 - 9:59 pm]

I teach math at a big urban high school, and I love having tests like the CAHSEE out there. It puts my students and I on the same side against a common for –the dreaded test. That’s a healthy situation for teaching and learning. Going a step further, I wish ALL grading (midterms, finals, and even more, if possible) were done by someone other than me. The pressure on teachers to pass their students even though they haven’t learned the material is HUGE. Students, of course, want you to pass them, their parents do, and most importantly, the administrators (the people who hire, fire, and assign teachers their schedules) also want high pass rates. Nobody except the lone teacher with a strong idea of right and wrong stands in favor of honest grading. Let someone else do it –let my school administration start LIKING me for having so many students who pass the class instead of DISLIKING me for asking for the support I need to help the students learn.

13. Christian M says:

[3/17/2010 - 5:31 pm]

I just took the CAHSEE and let me tell you, it is a joke. I dont see why people are complaining;if you can’t pass the CAHSEE you should kill yourself.

14. mark says:

[4/29/2010 - 2:42 am]

If you can’t pass the CAHSEE, you shouldn’t be allowed in high school. Perfect score here. Hours spent studying: 0. It should be renamed the California High School Entrance Exam. Oh, and English is not my first language.

15. Sheri says:

[5/2/2010 - 7:33 pm]

Not real bright there, Christian M – encouraging suicide. And to Mark, its attitudes like yours that discourage others from even trying. Get over yourself. That’s great that you didn’t need to study to pass the CAHSEE. Maybe you should have not been allowed into high school. Getting into high school has nothing to do with whether or not one can pass the CAHSEE. It has to do with your grades or lack thereof.

And by the way, CDE and CA Department of Ed have just recently enacted legislation that guarantees Sp Ed kids are no longer required to pass the CAHSEE as a condition of getting a diploma. All they have to do now is just pass all classes and get all required credits.

16. Carol says:

[6/5/2010 - 8:22 pm]

Very impressive blog, Todd. You managed to pull in a lot of people, especially students. That’s always a good thing.
Before I get to the real topic at hand, CAHSEE, I want to address a paragraph Sherri made a couple of years ago(when does time become relevant here?) She wrote:
“As for the ELL students – unless you are also a Special Ed student – you have no right to cry foul over the CAHSEE. Stop being whining, lazy people and learn English. You came to America for a better life. Having a better life includes learning the language, as well as addressing ALL Americans IN ENGLISH. Since I have to work hard to have a good life here – and I was born in America – then ALL immigrants must do the same. I am tired of having my taxes continue to skyrocket because immigrants – primarily ILLEGAL – break AAmerica’s laws without fear of reprisal.”
Holy Cow! I’ll ignore the “whining and lazy” comments and go straight to the tax comment. Undocumented immigrants are here on behalf of an unannounced, informal invitation by our government so that somebody can pick your tomatoes, make your hotel bed and butcher your beef. Would you take those jobs? I bet not. We DO collect taxes from these hardworking people, alien or otherwise. Oh yeah, there are some illegal workers here that are not paying their taxes, to be sure. Just as there are some fat cats on Wall Street and English speaking legal residents that are also not paying their taxes. They aren’t working nearly as hard but they are earning more in one day than those “lazy, whining illegal aliens” earn in a lifetime. Do you really think that it is our grape pickers and house cleaners that are making our taxes soar? Think again.
As for ELL’s and crying foul over the CAHSEE. Sherri, you mention that the ELL should be able to take the CAHSEE after being in this country for two years. Wrong again. It takes between six months to two year to acquire Basic Interpersonal Conversation Skills. That means being able to converse on very basic level with a very limited vocabulary. On the other hand, research shows us that it take five to seven years to master Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. (CALPS) This is what you need to function in school at any given age. You need CALPS to take the CAHSEE. It is just not that simple.
As for CAHSEE and special ed. I am learning disabled as is my daughter. I am a teacher, middle school English. I am earning my Masters degree in TESOL right now (so far receiving a 4.0 GPA) and found this blog because I am researching high school exit exams for an assignment. If I had to take the CAHSEE, I would fail. Do you know why? I have Dyscalculia. It is a math disability. I cannot do math above a 5th grade level. I had to study very, very hard to pass the CBEST several years ago.
The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) was developed to meet requirements of laws relating to credentialing and employment. This test requirement in no way replaces any of the other requirements of subject matter knowledge, professional preparation, and practice teaching or field experience used in the issuance of credentials. The CBEST is designed to test basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills found to be important for the job of an educator
It took me three tries, each time studying months for it and then when I took it I sat at that desk in the test taking room for FIVE freaking hours nonstop doing just math. I barely passed it, in fact I believe it was a accident that I did pass it. I think that I might have guessed a few correctly because as I was taking the test I was acutely aware that I wasn’t really comprehending the calculation process. Perhaps it was divine intervention or just dumb luck, I don’t know, and I guess it doesn’t matter, because I am an English teacher. The only times I need math for in teaching is when I calculate grades and I use programs and calculators. Even for that it takes me a long time to do. Nevertheless, my passage allowed me to go on to earn my teaching credential at age 51. I’m told I’m a good teacher. I enjoy it very much and I have tremendous compassion for my students. I value literacy and education and work hard to pass this on to my students.
Back to the CAHSEE. I think one assessment is simply not feasible when you have so many variables. I don’t know the answer though. I just wanted to address the ELL comments.

17. Sheri says:

[6/10/2010 - 10:38 am]

Carol –

I bet I WOULD take the very jobs you say I wouldn’t. I have seen more Caucasians that are tomato pickers, housekeeprs, and butchers than not. However, my physical health would prevent me from doing so, nevermind the fact that both of my kids are disabled, and the yougest of the 2 has medical issues that dictate I remain at home to care for him.

It is agreed that there are many in Corporate America that pay zero in taxes. That’s beside the point. I have seen how immigrants (primarily illegal) refuse to speak English. I have had more than enough of them coming up to me speaking in nothing but Spanish. This isn’t the United Republic of Mexico. It’s the United States of America – learn English, use English or go home to their country of origin.

Services and such have skyrocketed – due to in large part by illegals being here with their entitlement attitudes, using hospitals here and not paying the bills.

Back to the CAHSEE, they should be able to take the ELA portion after being here 2 years. They have been in our educational system long enough by 2 years to have enough of a basic working knowledge of the language to do it.

If we are discussing disabilities, yes, I know what dyscalculia is. Math was never my strong suit either. I feel that teachers in this day and age are ‘forced’ to teach to the test, and not any time to be creative with their lesson plans for other things to teach their students. I know as I see it enough in my youngest’s school (he’s in middle school), and in the elementary school my eldest and I volunteer in. I feel bad for teachers, because you have to put up with so much.

We can agree to disagree on many things, Carol. I will leave it at that.

18. ann says:

[10/10/2010 - 7:34 pm]

IS THEIR A LAW NOW FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE special ed THAT DONT HAVE TO TAKE THE CAHSEE? MY DAUGHTER IS IN THE 12TH NOW SHE HAS PAST ALL BUT NOT MATH SHE DOES SO BAD IN MATH AND I JUST WANNA KNOW BECAUSE SHE IS SO WORRIED SO WONT GRADUATE WITH HER CLASS.

19. wesley says:

[12/1/2010 - 1:08 pm]

Hey micheal i agree with you on (148)???

20. (:ROSA:) says:

[12/1/2010 - 1:16 pm]

well… besides that. i am doing research about the CAHSEE. sheri is no help with those articles. i mean, who has time to read the whole thing!?!?! i know i dont! YOU ARE NO HELP!! >:0
and second of all, whats the whole point on taking the stupid CAHSEE?? if you pass it, dont have all your credits, you still cant graduate? lastly IF you dont have all your credits and dont pass the CAHSEE, you still dont graduate?? so what the freak is the point?? its just a waste of time and paper! supposedly, you are supposed to show what you have learned on the CAHSEE, but isnt that what FINALS are for?????? DUH!!!

21. Damecia griffin says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:47 pm]

I disagree with the CAHSEE because if you dont pass the high school exit exam then basicaly you wasted four years of your life…..

22. (:ROSA:) says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:48 pm]

i 100% agree with Demecia Griffin!! :)

23. wesley (aka)lover-boy says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:49 pm]

i agree with u damecia because if you have all ur credits and if u pass the CAHSEE you still dont graduate…???

24. wesley (aka)lover-boy says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:50 pm]

my bad i mean if u dont have all ur credits

25. Joshua says:

[1/24/2011 - 9:09 pm]

Sheri-
I can see where you are coming from. As a high school student with a sister that is not up with the regular education stream it is very hard to take such tests. I have been skimming through some of the comments and i’m not saying i disagree with you idea of a separate test for special education tests but Todd has another great point in that such kids should not receive the same diploma. Not to be mean to these kids but like Todd said they are not learning the same things and therefore should not be given a diploma say they have completed the same requirements as main stream kids or higher. Nothing against special Ed. kids. I hope your kids are doing all right in school. :)

26. Sheri says:

[1/25/2011 - 12:21 pm]

Thanks, Joshua. My daughter is a member of the Class of 2007. Guess what she did? Not only did she graduate, she got her diploma without having to pass the CAHSEE, AND she graduated in gold.

My other child is slated to graduate in 2015. He won’t have to pass the CAHSEE, yet he will still get his diploma. Why? Because kids like him aren’t being required to pass it to get their diplomas. And that started with the Class of 2009. CDE is exempting them from this requirement and is looking into an alternative form of the CAHSEE for SpEd students, based on their modified curriculum. Granted, if this happens, SpEd students will still be getting a diploma, it will be based on what they learned.

I have a copy of a ‘press release’ of sorts that was sent to all school districts within CA, that puts school districts on notice that unless/until the CDE and State of CA Board of ED devises a SpEd CAHSEE, that school districts are to issue diplomas to SpEd students, regardless if they pass the current CASHEE or not.

27. Kelli Reyes says:

[2/13/2011 - 11:02 am]

Hi,

You raise many good points about testing and I enjoy reading your thoughts about teaching. I am writing to let you know about an upcoming Blog Campaign that we would “love” for you to participate in and, hopefully, announce on your website. It takes place this Monday, Valentines Day, and it is called: “I Love Public Education Blog Day”

Everyone who cares about young people cares about our schools. Our best schools nurture our children, make them feel safe, and able to take the risks they need to in order to learn. But our schools are in danger of becoming even more narrowly focused on test preparation, while class sizes rise, and teachers are blamed for the ravages poverty inflicts on their students.

We are responding. We love our schools. We declare Valentine’s Day, 2011, to be I Love Public Education Blog Day. On this day we will write our hearts out, about why it is that public education is so important to us, our children, and our democratic society. If you or your readers will join us and tell why you love public education too, send your comments and posts to saveourschoolsmarch@gmail.com.

Writing will be displayed at the http://www.SaveOurSchoolsmarch.org website, and will be tweeted with the hashtag #LovePublicEd. We offer the march and events of July 28 to 31st in Washington, DC, as a focal point for this movement, and we ask participants to link to this event, so we can build momentum for our efforts. If your readers wish to repeat this post on their own blog, we would love it!

If this is something you can help support us on, we would greatly appreciate it. We want to build awareness of our upcoming march, and our “I Love Public Education Blog Day” is a great way to get the word out.

Sincerely,

Kelli Reyes

28. blank says:

[2/23/2011 - 9:23 pm]

I have graduated and yet haven’t gotten a diploma.I completed all my credits but didn’t pass the English portion of the CAHSEE.I’m wondering if I should try and get a GED.I’m really frustrated because I don’t know what to do…I can’t go to college nor work because my diploma is stopping me from everything.I have taken the English portion like 5x already and I can’t pass it..Is there anyway that I could get help and get my diploma or a GED??or try to pass my English CAHSEE?

29. Anonymous says:

[3/8/2011 - 5:45 pm]

You obviously haven’t seen the CAHSEE and STAR tests if you think the STAR is a “meaningless exam” and the CAHSEE should replace it. I’m a student and I know a lot about these tests. I have a few problems with the CAHSEE:
-takes as much money to administer as the CAHSEE
-unlike the STAR, it doesn’t scale with education level (Special Education students should not have to pass the same test as Advanced Placement students)
-both are pretty easy even though the STAR scales; passing rates should be about the same, and if an honors student can’t pass the STAR test, that student shouldn’t be in honors
-both cost the state a lot of money, but the STAR is actually evaluated in ranking and funding for schools, not the CAHSEE
I see no reason why the CAHSEE should remain. The STAR does an overall better job, and anyone who says otherwise obviously hasn’t seen the two tests. It’ll save time and money if the state just uses the STAR. After all, both the CAHSEE and STAR are run by for-profit businesses.
I think that Special Education students have every right to sue.

30. Todd says:

[3/9/2011 - 12:19 am]

STAR (also known as CST) does not scale with education level. SpEd students and AP students are taking the exact same test if they are in the same grade level in English. In other words, a grade 11 SpEd kid takes the grade 11 test. A grade 11 AP student also takes the grade 11 test. A grade 11 EL student who has only been in this country for four months also takes the grade 11 test. I’m not sure why you think the test scales, but that’s not the case.

You state that “Special Education students should not have to pass the same test as Advanced Placement students.” Maybe they shouldn’t have to pass the same test, but the currently do have to pass the same test as AP students.

The CAHSEE is used to help calculate a school’s AYP and API scores. In fact, at the high school level, the AYP is almost entirely based on CAHSEE performance (check out page two of this PDF from the CDE). Those scores are used for school ranking and are related to the funding schools receive. Sorry, Anonymous, but you’re wrong here, too.

What do you think the STAR does a better job in doing? I mean, what job to you think the STAR performs? Is it the same job that the CAHSEE performs? Maybe they both do different things.

31. Raul says:

[3/9/2011 - 2:31 pm]

I am a senior and i havent passed the cahsee i just hoping that i pass it. It dosent make sence at all and it is ruining students live forever just because the score wasent enough well what i got to say about the cahsee fuck u………
WHOS WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

32. Anonymous says:

[3/13/2011 - 3:05 pm]

@Todd
I’m not sure about English, but I know Math and Science scales with level. Every year when we take the tests, we have to fill out what grade and which science class we are in, and receive a corresponding test.
Specifically, questions like “Which object do you use to observe in the field?” and showing pictures such as a light bulb, a plugged in desktop computer, some sort of animal, and a notepad is pretty ridiculous. And the CAHSEE had a lot of ridiculous questions.
Some of the questions aren’t even easy, but they make them incredibly ridiculous. Who tells you to find “x”, and puts the right answer in “[coefficient]x = [value]”? It should be “x = [value]/[coefficient]”.

33. Todd says:

[3/13/2011 - 5:09 pm]

You receive STAR test booklets for the courses you’re taking. A sophomore taking a Biology test receives the same test as a junior taking a Biology test. There is no scale that adapts education level to course. The only bearing your education level has on the STAR is which grade-level English/Language Arts test booklet you receive. All other CSTs are based on your enrolled courses (or the highest course completed in the cases of math and science if you aren’t currently enrolled).

Until there are reasons for more students to take the STAR seriously (and the EAP is a good beginning, here, but should not be the end) and their performance on that test matters to them for some real and tangible reason, I’m going to keep calling the STAR a meaningless exam as far as students are concerned.

Both tests have lots of ridiculous questions. For English, any test item that asks about proper letter format or proper Works Cited format is ridiculous. Who cares? You can find those answers easily and don’t need to have them committed to memory. Minutia of any content area should not be the focus of a summative exam.

34. Raul says:

[3/22/2011 - 1:31 pm]

Who ever wants to pass the chasee you just need HOPE in your heart i just Hope I pass the Chasee

35. desiree says:

[3/28/2011 - 3:29 pm]

i believe the cahsee is a gud reasonable idea beacaus we teenagers are the future

36. Lisa says:

[6/4/2011 - 9:02 am]

so i have a question for a report I am doing…
Do california schools have to pay for extra CAHSEE classes?
after a student fails to pass the CAHSEE the school is required to help the student pass the next year, although the state pays for administering the CAHSEE it self, does the school have to pay for the extra CAHSEE classes?

37. Todd says:

[6/4/2011 - 1:06 pm]

Those classes that schools offer to help students pass the CAHSEE, those are classes that the school and district must allocate funds for. We aren’t given anything from the state to offset the cost of assigning a teacher to those classes.

And I’m not sure what you mean by “the state pays for administering the CAHSEE it self.” I mean, sure, schools don’t have to make copies of all the materials, but, again, schools aren’t given anything to help pay for the staff who would otherwise be doing other things during the test. The cost of all this is simply absorbed into how each school conducts business. Make sense? Let me know if you need anything else! Thanks, Lisa!

38. Lisa says:

[6/5/2011 - 4:16 pm]

no, thank you! and i will, but, you have helped me more than you know. I have referenced to the site multiple times for help on on my report. thanks again todd :)

39. Andy says:

[7/31/2011 - 6:09 am]

I was in Special Ed through all of K-12, and I passed both parts of the CAHSEE on my first try. But, let me tell you, it sure as Hell was NOT easy! I have heard Regular Ed kids brag that it was so easy, they finished it in 45 minutes. It took me 5 hours on each part! I am sick of Regular Ed kids telling me how easy it was. I busted my ass, and I’m damn proud of myself! I EARNED my diploma, and no one can take that away from me.

40. Katy says:

[10/2/2011 - 5:01 pm]

I am an English teacher and have worked with students who have attempted the CAHSEE multiple times. I worked at a continuation school last year and spent a lot of time with a 20 year-old student who still had not passed the CAHSEE (either section). He completed every worksheet, packet, and essay that I gave him, but he still didn’t pass the test by 3 or 4 points. The most challenging part was trying to keep his morale up. He had a great job at the hospital as security with benefits and good pay ($13 an hour). This student was making more than I was making at 20 years old.

It is very tough to watch students struggle through the test. These are C or D students. Some don’t care and some do and struggle through everything. If graduation was based on their GPA, than the would pass. Sadly, they might not.

I do my best as a teacher to prepare them for the CAHSEE. I have even gone as far as rewording my tests to mimic the style and format of the CAHSEE. I hope that the familiarity of the structure will make students feel more comfortable and experience less stress and testing anxiety on the day of the test.

41. AMW says:

[4/26/2012 - 9:06 am]

High school is such bullshit! The teachers always find something to bitch at you about. If you have Fs or Ds, then “Your not trying hard enough.” Yet if you have all As, like I do, then it’s “Your not being challenged enough.” What the fuck does that mean? I work my ass off to get all As, and yet instead of feeling proud of myself, I am made to feel like a lazy fuck for not wanting to take all AP classes. Do good work, and how are you rewarded? With a harder fucking class. Why even bother to be a good student?