- About Ed Trust West
- Press Room
- Our Advocacy Agenda
- In the Field
Standards and Assessments
We are proud that California’s academic content standards, approved by the State Board of Education in 1999, have been deemed to be among the best state standards nationwide. These voluntary standards cover English, math, science and social science for grades K-12, and are intended to drive what teachers teach and what students learn in California’s public schools.
How well the standards are learned by students is assessed by the state’s mandatory Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, which are administered once per year statewide. These standardized tests measure how well students have mastered the standards they have been taught.
The tragedy in California is that while we have rigorous standards, our students aren’t learning them. Year after year, achievement data reveals that too many of the state’s students struggle to reach grade level expectations in English and math, and many are failing outright. And although student achievement is growing at a slow but consistent pace, also growing is the vast and persistent gaps between African-American, Latino, and low-income students and their White and more affluent peers.
California’s high school students are also assessed on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which they are required to pass in order to graduate. The CAHSEE is currently the only measure we have to ensure a high school diploma represents some measure of learning, rather than simply time served in a seat.
Despite the naysayers, in the years since the CAHSEE became a graduation requirement in 2006, we have not seen increased dropout rates and the doomsday consequences that many predicted. Indeed it has been quite the opposite. California’s high school students continue to rise to the challenge and overall pass rates have improved for each graduating class since the class of 2006. The truth is when we ask students to do more; they almost always rise to the challenge.
And while the CAHSEE is necessary, it is not necessarily sufficient. The CAHSEE tests only 7th and 8th grade math standards and 10th grade English standards. We should and must expect more of our high school graduates if we expect them to be able to achieve post-secondary success in college and career.
Over 90% of students overall meet these minimal standards. The time is now to ratchet up the rigor of the CAHSEE so that it actually assesses the full range of skills we know our students need for post-secondary success, rather than those skills that relegate them to unemployment lines, dimly-lit futures and dead end jobs.
To read the Education Trust-West’s published work on Standards and Assessments, please see below.