NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Exit Exams Testing Florida Governor

June 10, 2003

The huge number of statewide test failures this year -- the first year the test is required for graduation -- and the devastating consequences for teenagers who will leave school without a diploma are turning into a political nightmare for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But they're also becoming a test of nerve for other states that are phasing in new or tougher exit exams over the next few years.

  • California is likely to back off its plan to deny diplomas next year to anyone who fails its exit exam; it concluded that one in five California high-school seniors wouldn't graduate.
  • Arizona has postponed the no-diploma consequences of its exit exam four times.
  • Alaska has put off its must-pass requirement by two years and rewritten the test to make it easier.

In Florida, the bulk of the seniors who failed the test are either African-Americans or English-learning Haitians and Hispanics. Black and Hispanic activists charge that the state's low per-pupil spending on education is the cause. They're calling for a boycott of Florida citrus, sugar, amusement parks and the turnpike until Bush sets aside the test results.

Source: June Kronholz, "States' High-School Exit Exams Are Political Minefield," Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB105485172532768100,00.html


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