Sacramento – Special education students may receive a reprieve on this year’s California High School Exit Exam if legislation passes, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced Tuesday.
Senate bill 517 would delay the CAHSEE requirement for one year but only for students with disabilities and on track to graduate this spring, giving schools more time to help certain special education students pass. To qualify for the exemption students must have an individualized education program and have completed all state and local graduation requirements.
Also, the students must have taken the exit exam at least twice after their sophomore, including once during their senior year.
The bill reflects the terms of a settlement reached last year in the case of Chapman versus the California Department of Education, O’Connell and the State Board of Education. The lawsuit sought to delay the consequences of the CAHSEE for students with disabilities attempting to graduate with the class of 2006.
The legislation also stipulates that school districts granting diplomas to a special education student who has not passed the CAHSEE must certify whether the pupil has been provided with remedial or supplemental instruction focused on the exam.
The State Board of Education will be required to review any failure to grant a high school diploma by a school district or state special school. The school district or special school must submit documentation of the failure to grant a high school diploma within 15 days of the determination that the student with the disability does not meet the criteria specified in the legislation.
“This bill, SB 517 by Senator Romero, will uphold the integrity of the California High School Exit Exam and at the same time, give our schools more time to provide special education students with the skills necessary to pass the exam,” O’Connell said in a written statement. “I continue to believe that for all students, a high school diploma should signify the acquisition of skills necessary to succeed in the world beyond graduation.”
O’Connell said about half of the state’s special education students are on track to pass the exit exam in 2006.
“It would be a huge disservice to them and to the significant number of students that I am convinced will be able to pass the exam, to expect less of them in the future,” O’Connell said. “Those special education students who are on a path toward high school graduation should be given the same high-quality education as all of our students. Over the next year, I will work with the legislature and the Schwarzenegger administration to see how we can best help these students succeed in meeting all graduation requirements.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.