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Unraveling the Myths of Accountability: A Case Study of the California High School Exit Exam

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Believing that accountability could be a vehicle for change, the California Department of Education (CDE) requires all high school students to pass the Calfornia High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in order to graduate. In doing so, California joins many others states in mandating a high school exit exam as a current or future requirement for graduation. In this essay, the authors will argue that this testing approach to school change is based on myths about the role of assessment, the information testing can provide and the impact high stakes testing has on urban schools. Although California is the focus of this analysis, these issues are salient across the county. Testing as a solution to poor student achievement is based on faulty assumptions. It is these assumptions this piece seeks to address.

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    There were many other manifestations of behaviorism in classroom, including drill and practice and positive reinforcement schemes used for discipline purposes.

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    On indicators of SES, racial composition, and mathematics achievement there was no significant difference between the students at these two working-class schools.

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    These are schools with 90–100% African American and Latino student enrollment.


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Correspondence to Kerri Ullucci.

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Ullucci, K., Spencer, J. Unraveling the Myths of Accountability: A Case Study of the California High School Exit Exam. Urban Rev 41, 161 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-008-0105-y

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  • High-stakes testing
  • Standardized tests
  • Accountability