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The Use of High School Exit Examinations in Four Southwestern States

By Paula García


Some 25 U.S. states have implemented or plan to implement a policy requiring that students pass a basic-skills test to graduate from high school. These tests, designed for native English speakers, have doubtful validity and reliability when administered to the English language learner (ELL) population, which is growing every year. Additionally, requiring students to pass an examination in English for high school graduation has two major consequences. To the individual, failure of the test could result in denial of gainful employment. To the larger society, an incidental English-only policy is implemented. This paper reviews some of the validity issues associated with high school exit exams used with ELL students and some of the solutions proposed by researchers and educators. This paper highlights how high-stakes testing has been implemented in four southwestern states with large ELL populations

Year: 2009
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