The state of California is planning on awarding an estimated 40,000 high school diplomas to dropouts by passing a new law that will retroactively remove the requirement to pass a high school exit exam, according to SF Gate.
The number could be higher, though, as 249,000 students failed to pass the test by the end of senior year from 2006 to 2014.
SB172 was approved 23-14 Thursday by the Senate during the final rush of the state Legislature, which has until Friday to send it to Gov. Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign.
The Daily Caller reports that the bill will suspend the California High School Exit Exam (CASHEE) through 2018, while also retroactively suspending it back to 2004 — meaning all students who failed to ever pass the exam since it debuted in 2006 will receive their diplomas if they met all other graduation requirements.
The Exit Exam was canceled in July by the state over concerns that it was outdated, leaving several thousand students unable to graduate.
Lawmakers moved quickly to let 2015 graduates receive diplomas without the test, but Brown wanted to take it further and allow all prior students who failed the test to receive a diploma as well.
While the Exit Exam will be suspended for the next three years while the state creates a new test more in line with controversial Common Core standards, which California has embraced.
CASHEE was created with the intention to make sure that students have a rudimentary grasp of English and mathematics before being awarded a high school diploma, and to check that the students who received passing grades while learning almost nothing gained at least some basic knowledge.
However, the state standardized test is hardly complex enough to even ensure students have learned anything at all during the four years of high school.
The math test, for instance, only covers 8th grade-level material and can be passed if students answer 55% of questions correctly. About 80% of California high schoolers take and pass it on their first try while in the 10th grade, and overall passing rates for the class of 2014 were over 97%.
Opposition has come from California Republicans, who argue that the test is remarkably easy and giving diplomas to those who can’t pass it will simply devalue California diplomas in general.
“It is not that rigorous,” Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, told SFGate. “At least it’s something that we have a measure that they met some educational requirements. I think it’s a dumb move.”