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Students Stymied by California Exit Exam May Qualify for Diplomas, but Outreach Is Spotty

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC
After nearly 10 years trying to get her high school diploma, 27-year-old Ocotlan Castelin may now qualify under a California law that invalidates the state's high school exit exam.

California no longer requires students to pass a high school exit exam to graduate. Thousands of students, dating back to 2006 failed the test.

This year, because of a new law, these students could get their diplomas. But many schools are making little effort to let them know.

law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October compels California school districts to issue diplomas to former students who met every graduation requirement except passing the California High School Exit Exam.

But a check of several districts shows that efforts to inform ex-students that they may now qualify for a diploma — a life-changer for many — have been uneven. Some districts are actively seeking those impacted, while others say they don’t have the resources to look for and contact them.

About 35,000 students statewide met every graduation requirement except passing the exit exam since 2006, when the test was implemented. Many of those students may have since passed the exit exam after going to adult school, so it’s unclear exactly how many might be eligible now to get their diplomas.

Los Angeles Unified officials said they estimate about 8,000 former district students met all graduation requirements except passing the exit exam going back the past nine years. The district is planning to inform those that they can reach.

“It’s not a requirement of the law that we reach out to every student. But we, as a district, we’re going to send a notification to each student that we know, based on their last known address,” said Cynthia Lim, LAUSD executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability.

The district will also launch a website so former students can check if they qualify, she said.

Copyright 2016 KPCC