High School Exit Exams:
Results of a National Survey

In accordance with Federal Title I regulations, states are currently required to assess the mathematics and reading performance of students within three grade level bands: 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12.  By 2005-2006, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that all students in grades 3-8 be tested annually in these subjects.  Although not specifically required by NCLB, many states have also designed a testing program for high school students that includes an "exit exam"- a high stakes assessment that a student must pass in order to receive a high school diploma. In its August 2002 document, State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report, the Center on Education Policy explains the rationale thusly:  "States are adopting exit exams primarily to ensure that students graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills needed to do well in a job, college, and other aspects of life"

(see http://www.cep-dc.org/topics/testing/ for a link to this and other reports on testing).

As of June 2003, mandatory exit exams that assess competency in mathematics and language arts were be implemented (or were being planned to be implemented by 2008) by 26 states.  Many other states that did not have state-mandated exit exams also gave school districts the option of requiring that a student pass a test in order to graduate from high school. Our initial research gathered web sites for each of the states' high school mathematical assessment programs in grades 9-12.

This research also attempted to gather information such as:

     1.Name of Exit Exam and is it a requirement for graduation
     2.What types of questions: Multiple Choice and/or open ended items are on the test.
     3.Is a calculator allowed?
     4.What content is covered by the exam?

High stakes tests and exit exams in particular continue to be the subject of much controversy.  Yet, the purpose, nature, rigor and format of exit exams vary widely among the states.  Please feel free to access our research for all 50 states high school mathematical assessments as well as links to each website of every state's assessment program using the following links:

                High School Mathematical Assessment Exams by State

                                                    or

               High School Mathematical Assessment Exam by State PDF Download

Also please email me with any corrections, updates, or comments at milou@rowan.edu