How Do Most States Administer High School Exit Exams?

A high school exit exam is an assessment that learners must pass to complete a course, be promoted to the next grade level, or receive a diploma. Many states utilize high school exit exams as a way to maintain graduation standards across public high schools. Exit exams are required for all public school learners, and you must pass them to receive your high diploma. It may sound scary, but they’re not all that bad.

One question that many students find themselves asking is, “how are these exams administered.” In this article, I will answer this question.

Each state has its assessment system, and tests may be administered earlier or later in high school, depending on the state. As an example, Texas requires learners to pass two kinds of exit exams. First up is the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, which is typically taken in 11th grade. Then you have the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, a set of end-of-course exams taken at various times depending on when a learner finishes a course.

The TAKS has sections that test language arts, math, science, and social studies. The STAAR is composed of tests in the following subjects: English 1, 2, and 3; Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2; Biology, Chemistry, and Physics; World History, US History, and World Geography.

In Massachusetts, which has fewer requirements than Texas, learners are expected to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test in English language arts and math in 10th grade. Learners must also take one end-of-course exam in biology, chemistry, introductory physics, or engineering in either 9th or 10th grade. Many of these states have basic exit exams that cover math and language arts, but many also add end-of-course exams in other core subjects as requirements for learners.

As we have demonstrated in this article, every state has its policies and procedures that govern the administration of high school exit exams. The subjects and material that is tested will vary from state to state. Also, things like rigor, cutoff scores, and failure implications are different in each state.

To find out how your state administers high school exit exams, visit the website for your state’s department of education, which handles educational testing.

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