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Published in: The Urban Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2009.


Believing that accountability could be a vehicle for change, the California Department of Education (CDE) requires all high school students to pass the California 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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