Disparities on California's high school exit exam
My breakfast with Jane Hannaway made me late to a session at AERA yesterday on high school exit exams, but I arrived in time for the presentation of a new study out of California, where students have had to pass an exam to graduate since 2005. The researchers, Sean Reardon of Stanford and Michal Kurlaender of University of California at San Diego, looked at the impact of the exams on students in the bottom quartile of their class. Within that population, the exams had a big negative effect on minorities and on girls.
Forty-six percent of Hispanic students in the bottom quartile graduated before the exam went into effect, compared with 31 percent after. For black students, the number went down from 53 percent to 34 percent. Asians, too, saw a decline, from 61 percent to 45 percent. But for whites in the bottom quartile, there was virtually no change: 44 percent to 43 percent.
Boys in the bottom quartile saw their graduation rate decline by 11 percentage points while the rate for girls declined by 19 points.
Students in the upper three quartiles were barely impacted by the exam. Overall, California's graduation rate declined between 3 and 4 percentage points. But Reardon said there's no evidence that the California exit exam had a positive impact on student achievement and he recommends doing away with it. His report will be made public next week, and I'll provide a link then.
It's worth noting that California does not provide students who don't pass the exam with a project option as Maryland does.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the study.