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California High School Exit Exam

Education Code Section 60850a authorized the development of a high school exit examination in language arts and mathematics based on California content standards. Updates and notes on the changes in the CAHSEE will be posted at students must pass both the English Language Arts and Mathematics section of California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) to be eligible to receive a diploma from a public high school in California. All students in grade 10 and grade 11 who have not yet passed the CAHSEE are required to take the exam. There are multiple opportunities to retake the test for those students who do not pass. The testing dates are listed at this site:

The California Department of Education has posted their CAHSEE English-Language Arts Teacher Guide at It is a valuable document for History/Social Science teachers to use as well, in that the CAHSEE Language Arts Blueprint targets key standards that can serve as a guide for reading and writing all across the curriculum. For example, the CAHSEE E/LA Blueprint lists Reading Comprehension with a focus on Informational Material. The content of this standard suits social studies research processes to a tee. The SCORE H/SS version of the entire Blueprint document highlights those standards on the Blueprint that specifically relate to History/Social Science.

Of particular importance are the writing samples that are part of the CAHSEE. The forms of writing include: response to literature or analytic essay, biography, and persuasive essay. Again, these are the very forms of writing essential for a quality social studies program. Expository writing is used frequently as students write reports or essays on history-social science issues or topics. Social studies is nearly impossible to teach without the need for constructing a clear argument and/or persuasive essay. What the Teacher Guide provides is a set of rubrics that will allow teachers to plan the inclusion of writing in a more consistent and comprehensible manner across content areas and provide multiple opportunities to reinforce the learning.

I believe that student performance will be effectively enhanced through inclusion of these CAHSEE processes in the social studies classroom. What really struck me as I was preparing this for the website was how many of these standards are dramatically reinforced by such activities as History Day. To learn more about implementing History Day projects in your classroom see

* Source: High School Exit Examination 2003 English Language Arts Teacher Guide prepared by the Standards and Assessment Division of the California Department of Education

Questions, comments, and suggestions may be addressed to

Resources on the SCORE H/SS pages were evaluated by history/social science leaders in California. Going beyond these links allows student access to unknown material. Each school site is responsible for evaluating resources for appropriateness in the local school community.

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