Thesis Title

The California High School Exit Exam: English Language Students' Perspectives

Graduation Date

Summer 2009

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madelienne Peters, EdD


The purpose of this study is to explore English language (EL) learners’ perspective regarding the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). California’s policy makers created the CAHSEE to ensure subject matter competency in English Language Arts and Mathematics, upon graduating. However, EL learners may be struggling with the math portion of the CAHSEE because of the high language demand. It is important to examine the connection between English language skills and success on the math portion of the CAHSEE in order to evaluate the CAHSEE’s effectiveness. This study surveyed 45 native Spanish speakers in then- primary language regarding the CAHSEE’s math portion, at one Northern California high school. The results show EL learners believe English language proficiency is a factor that negatively impacts their performance on the CAHSEE’s math portion. This study calls into question previous evaluations of the CAHSEE which neglect to consider language barriers for EL learners while measuring math competency.

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