Capitol Alert

Assembly approves bill giving students exit-exam reprieve

Lukas Novak, tossed hit hat into the air in celebration during the conclusion of the graduation ceremony at Folsom High School in 2014. The Assembly approved legislation Thursday that gives a reprieve to high school graduates unable to take the exit exam.
Lukas Novak, tossed hit hat into the air in celebration during the conclusion of the graduation ceremony at Folsom High School in 2014. The Assembly approved legislation Thursday that gives a reprieve to high school graduates unable to take the exit exam. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Thousands of California high school seniors blocked from fulfilling their graduation requirements got an assist from the Legislature on Thursday as Assembly members passed a bill giving students a reprieve from a phased-out test.

Students who tried this summer to take a required high school exit exam found the test was no longer available because a state contract to administer the test had expired.

“We know that approximately 5,000 California high school students are in limbo,” said Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach. “Students cannot take a test that does not exist.”

Under Senate Bill 725, which passed the Assembly on a 69-1 vote, students graduating this year can get their diplomas without taking the expired test as long as they’ve fulfilled other graduation requirements. The bill heads next to the Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The California Department of Education has been working on swapping out the test with a new exam more aligned to current standards. Administering the old test again this July would have cost around $2 million, officials said, and the department had been counting on the Legislature acting more quickly to pass a separate bill suspending the testing requirement.

While members of both parties supported SB 725, some members expressed bewilderment that policymakers didn’t have the foresight to avert the current situation.

“It is an absolute failure of the California Department of Education, of this Legislature,” said Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank. “There is no logical reason we couldn’t have been prepared.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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