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Superintendent Says No Alternative To High School Exit Exam

Sacramento, CA — Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O´Connell says he will not bow to pressure to provide alternatives for California students who fail the state´s high school exit exam.

O´Connell, who wrote the law that created the exam, says the test is the only way to make sure all graduates have the skills necessary to move beyond high school.

Students scheduled to graduate this spring are the first class required to pass the exam to earn a diploma. The exam has angered some parents and lawmakers, who say it will hurt thousands of California high school seniors who have not been able to pass the test´s English and math sections.

O´Connell agreed to consider alternatives to the test after a report in September found that a fifth of the class of 2006 had not passed the California High School Exit Exam by their junior year.

The effect on special education students, who must pass the same test as their classmates, has been a particular concern among lawmakers.

O´Connell says he will encourage the Legislature to increase funding for adult education, summer school and independent study programs for students who fail the test.