Report on State High School Exit Exams

The Center on Education Policy’s (CEP) 11th annual report, State High School Exit Exams: A Policy in Transition, is based on data from 45 state education departments. It builds upon the group’s earlier work on a more comprehensive look at exit exam policy and practice, and existing trends in high school exit assessments.

The report discusses the current status of high school exit exams, providing information on the types of exams administered, which students take these exams, and how state exit exam policies have changed over the years. The report also considers the future of such policies and the impact of educational reform movements such as the Common Core State Standards and the recent focus on college and career readiness.

The report offers information for state leaders and policy makers around the challenges in implementing new assessment polices; how states have responded to such challenges; and how they are dealing with gaps in achievement among underserved populations.

CEP’s report presented three broad conclusions:

  • “Although state policies continue to evolve, high school exit exams remain a substantial force in education policy, currently affecting nearly 7 out of 10 public school students across the nation.”
  • Exit exams are becoming assessments of college and career readiness. Many states plan to use the Common Core State Standards, and often the common assessments, as a vehicle for this transition.”
  • “Although the success of exit exam policies remains questionable, state policymakers can learn a great deal from states’ past experiences with implementing new exit exam policies.”

Lessons learned include the importance of gaining stakeholder support, maintaining flexibility in implementation, and ensuring a financial commitment on the part of the state. According to the report, states should also be aware of the effects of outside policies on state exit exams and their implementation.

To read the full report, visit the Center on Education Policy online.


Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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