Case Closed: CAHSEE Test Grading Policy

Case Closed: CAHSEE Test Grading Policy

Sophie Jacques, Staff Writer

Each year all sophomores attending a public high school in the state of California are required to participate in the California High School Exit Exam. The primary purpose of the examination is to significantly improve student achievement in public high schools and to ensure that students who graduate from public high schools can demonstrate grade level competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. The tests are administered by the individual high schools and are then graded by trained and experienced educators.

However, there have been rumors claiming the essay portion of the CAHSEE is graded based on how much lead is on the paper. Some Miramonte students said they literally scribbled on the paper or drew a picture instead of actually writing an essay. These rumors have caused some concern and disagreement amongst the student body as it completely defeats the purpose of what we are taught in school: quality is more important than quantity.

We turned to the Director of Educational Services, Pam Tyson, to see if these rumors are really true.

“My reaction is this is an Urban Legend,” Tyson said. “The California State Department of Education (CDE) is required by federal law to administer and score the assessment in a valid and reliable manner.” Each essay is required to undergo an audit by an external research firm every year. “There are actually a lot of eyes that look over the tests and results. It is true that the audits DO NOT review each test – so it may be possible for one or two to slip by, but I really doubt it.”

The CAHSEE English-language arts (ELA) scores are reported on a scale ranging from 250 to 450. Scores on the writing task are “weighted” to account for 20 percent of the ELA scale score. Multiple-choice scores for reading and writing are summed and then weighted to account for the remaining 80 percent of each student’s scale score.

Tyson said a student can receive a zero on the writing portion and still get a score of up to 80 percent on the overall examination – since the writing portion is 20 percent of the total score – as is indicated on the CDE website.

So, from what we know, we can confirm that these rumors are just rumors.