Cahsee Writing Essay Score

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CAHSEE Scoring

Your dreams of earning a high school diploma from the US State of California can be realized by passing CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam). The  test format has been designed to assess the basic academic skills that should be possessed by students graduating from public schools in California.  In other words, the State of California utilizes your performance in CAHSEE to assess all the skills and also the knowledge that you should ideally possess in order to be worthy of a high school diploma as per the state standards.

Do you Know the Importance of CAHSEE Scores?

Do not be under the impression that taking this test is an unnecessary burden that has been heaped upon you. Your performance will be good for you only, especially if you are finding it difficult to cope with the skill levels that are considered essential for high school students. The test scores help in segregating those students who are in need of additional coaching and training since they do not possess academic skills of the level that is expected of high school students graduating from California. These students are then subjected to intensive training to help them improve their skill levels if they have not been able to pass CAHSEE until the end of grade twelve.

The performance of high school students in this test is also used for state accountability purposes by calculating the Academic Performance Index. Moreover, it is used for the Adequate Yearly Progress which is required to meet the requirements of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act.

Are you Aware of the CAHSEE Test Format?

You could be putting in your best for studying for CAHSEE with the aim of passing it, but you might fail to achieve your aim if you are not aware of the following:

  • Types of questions asked
  • Passing Scores

Both of the above mentioned aspects are indispensable for a good performance in CAHSEE. You will not be able to prepare well if you are not aware of the types of questions asked in the test. At the same time, preparing for the test without knowing the passing scores will be like taking a shot without looking at the target.

The test structure is divided into two parts for evaluating your skills in two major subject areas; English and Math. A brief description of both the parts is given below:

  1. English-Language Arts (ELA)

This part consists of six strands consisting of multiple-choice questions except for the Writing Applications strand.

  1. Word Analysis: 7 questions
  2. Reading Comprehension: 18 questions
  3. Literary Response and Analysis: 20 questions
  4. Writing Strategies: 12 questions
  5. Writing Applications: Essay writing
  6. English Language Conventions: 15 questions

There are a total of 72 questions asked in this part. In addition, there will be 7questions that are trial test items and these questions will not be scored.

Scoring for ELA

The score for ELA is arrived at by considering your responses to the multiple-choice questions and the essay in different proportions. Your essay score accounts for 20 percent of the ELA score and your performance in the multiple-choice questions accounts for 80 percent of the ELA score.

  1. Essay score:   Your essay is scored by two readers. They will score your essay on a point scale that ranges from 1 to 4. The final essay score will be the average of these two scores. You can also receive a NS (non-scorable) essay score if your essay meets any of the following conditions:
    1. it does not address the given topic
    2. it is too short to make any sense or be scored
    3. it has been written in an illegible writing
    4. it has not been written in English

The scores are scaled so as to do away with the differences that may arise due to different editions of CAHSEE. The scale scores for the ELA part range from 275 to 450. You can pass this part only if you score 350 or above.  

  1. Mathematics

The questions for this part of CAHSEE are drawn from the following subject areas:

  1. Probability, Data analysis and Statistics: 12 questions
  2. Number Sense: 14 questions
  3. Algebra and Functions: 17 questions
  4. Measurement and Geometry: 17 questions
  5. Algebra I: 12 questions
  6. Mathematical Reasoning: 8 questions

There are a total of 92 questions in this part out of which 12 questions will be trial questions and they will not be scored.

Scoring for Math

The scoring for the mathematics part is carried out depending upon the questions that have been answered correctly by you. The raw scores are then scaled to a scale score ranging from 275 to 450. The passing score for this part is 350.

You need not pass both the parts in the same administration in order to pass CAHSEE. You can retake the part not passed by you in consecutive administrations. If you want more information about the test format, then you should visit the official website, for a detailed description of the test format and the policies governing the conduct of the test.

Are you Aware of What the Score Report Contains?

You need to be aware of various aspects related to the score report so that you know what to expect when you see your score report. You will receive the Student and Parent Report in approximately seven weeks from the test date. One copy of the score report will be handed over to the parents of the test-taker and another copy will be filed with the student’s school records. The following will be displayed in the score report:

  • General information about the test taker

  • Information about the test-taker’s performance in the most recent test taken by him. This would be for a single part if the test-taker has taken one part only. This information will be in the form of the scale scores for the part taken.

  • Whether you have passed or not will also be mentioned in the score report. This information will be displayed under the heading ‘Status’ in the score report. Status will be marked as ‘Passed’ if you have scored more than or equal to 350 in the part taken by you; otherwise it will be marked with a ‘Not Passed’. Status for a particular part will be marked as ‘Satisfied Requirement’ if you have taken that part in a previous administration and have passed it.

  • Your performance in each of the strands for each part will also be indicated in the score report. This will be done under two heads. One will be for the number of questions asked in the strand and the other will be for the number of questions in the strand that you have answered correctly.

  • Your Writing Applications score will also be displayed.

Finally, What if you Fail in CAHSEE?
Although, students cannot ignore the amount of hard work, studies and preparation required for passing CAHSEE, this test has not been formulated to put an additional load on high school students. You will be given a fairly high number of opportunities to pass the test if you are not able to pass it in your first attempt.

  1. If you have not been able to pass either one or both parts in grade ten, then you can retake the parts not passed by you up to two times per school year in grade eleven and up to five times per school year in grade twelve.

  2. If you are an adult student, you can retake the parts not passed by you up to three times per school year.

  3. You can avail the facility of undergoing special coaching and training for up to two consecutive academic years after the end of grade twelve if you haven’t been able to pass CAHSEE. 

As can be seen, CAHSEE can be passed comfortably with a preparation schedule that is headed in the right direction with the right amount of hard work and dedication.

The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) was an examination created by the California Department of Education, that was previously mandated to administer in High Schools statewide in order to graduate. The examination was suspended in 2015, when governor Jerry Brown signed a bill undoing the decade old requirement (the bill goes into law effective January 2016). It was originally created by the California Department of Education to improve the academic performance of Californiahigh school students, and especially of high school graduates, in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. In addition to other graduation requirements, public school students needed to pass the exam before they could receive a high school diploma.[1]

Students first took the test in the beginning of their sophomore year. If they do not pass one or both of the two test sections, then they may retake the section or sections that they have not yet passed.[1] Up to 2 test (or 8) opportunities are available to students before the end of their senior year.

The test was originally intended to be required of students graduating in 2004, but full implementation was delayed until the class of 2006. Approximately nine of every ten students ultimately passed by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.[2] In 2010, 81% of 10th graders passed each of the two sections on their first try.[3]


Prior to the CAHSEE, the high school exit exams in California were known as the High School Competency Exams and were developed by each district pursuant to California law. In 1999, California policy-makers voted to create the CAHSEE in order to have a state exam that was linked to the state’s new academic content standards.[4] The legislative bill to create the CAHSEE was championed by former state senator Jack O'Connell.[5] The first students to take the test were volunteers from the class of 2004, who took it as high school Freshmen in spring 2001 (March and May). In October 2001, Assembly Bill 1609 removed the option for ninth graders to take the CAHSEE beginning with the 2002 administration. The CAHSEE was next administered in the spring of 2002 to all tenth graders who had not passed it during the spring 2001 administration. Initially, the CAHSEE was intended as a graduation requirement for the class of 2004; the State Board of Education later revised the deadline and it was officially imposed first on the class of 2006.[1] Due to controversy denying the graduation of students who failed, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that suspended the exam and is no longer required for a diploma for students graduating twelfth grade until July 31, 2018.[6]


The CAHSEE is divided into two main sections: English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics.[1]

The English section includes about 80 multiple-choice questions and requires students to write one or two multi-paragraph essays.[7]

The essay portion provides a question that will prompt the student to write a persuasive essay, a business letter, a biography, a reaction to literature, or an analysis on the subject of the question. For example, in 2002, one group of students was asked to write an essay that persuaded people not to leave trash on the school grounds. Essay questions change with each test date. The essay portion is scaled out of one to four (with zeros given in special cases, such as for off-topic or non-English responses).

The mathematics section consists of about 90 multiple choice questions.[8]

The English section tests students at a 10th-grade level, and requires a score of 60% to pass; the mathematics section tests students at an 8th-grade level, and requires a score of 55% to pass.[2]


School yearPassing math testPassing English test

The number of students passing the test on their first attempt has risen slightly each year since 2004. More than three-quarters of students pass the test more than two years before they finish high school, and more than nine out of ten students to pass the test by the end of high school.

The passing rate of Asian and white students is higher than that of Hispanic and African-American students. Students learning English have the lowest passing rate, with one out of every four failing the exam in 2006.[2]

Passing the test was first required for the Class of 2006. As of June 2007, 91% of the 404,000 students in this class had passed the test before graduation, 1% failed the exam in 2006 but passed it in 2007, and 4% were still in school, either as fifth-year seniors or having transferred to a community college.[10]

As of February 2007, 91% of students in the Class of 2007 had passed both sections of the exit exam, an increase from the class of 2006.[11]

Special education[edit]

High school students with documented disabilities are allowed reasonable accommodations to keep those disabilities from being an unfair impediment toward proving academic competence. Tests administered with accommodations do not interfere with what the test was designed to measure or with the student's ability to earn a legitimate diploma. For example, a student with visual impairments may need a copy of the test in large-print or Braille. If the student does not score the required minimum score on each test, he/she will not receive a diploma.

Anything interfering with what the test was itself originally intended to measure is considered a 'modification' (for example, reading a test aloud to the student, if the purpose of the test is to determine whether the student can read), nullifying the results for graduation purposes. (These test results are still included in the calculations concerning school performance measures.) Schools offer modified tests to students with disabilities to let them participate, to the extent reasonable, in the normal activities of the school.

Beginning with the Class of 2010, eligible disabled students may graduate without passing the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE).[12] Eligible students have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan that indicates that the student has satisfied or will satisfy all other state and local requirements to receive a high school diploma, except for passing the CAHSEE test. This exemption shall last until the State Board of Education either implements an alternative means for students with disabilities to demonstrate achievement in the standards measured by the CAHSEE or determines that an alternative means assessment to the CAHSEE is not feasible.

Students with disabilities are still required to take the CAHSEE in grade ten for purposes of fulfilling the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

If a student has severe disabilities, an alternative test, the CAPA, can be given instead. This was intended to shorten the test for students whose chances of success on the CAHSEE were determined to be extremely low. There is no diploma granted under this condition, unless the student is exempted from needing to pass the actual CAHSEE.

Effect on students[edit]

Many schools and districts allow students who had failed the exit exam, but met other graduation requirements, to participate in the public graduation ceremony, although they may not receive a valid diploma unless they qualify for exemption as a student with a serious disability. Some districts present these students with certificates of completion to recognize that they have met all other graduation requirements.[13] The certificate of completion signifies completion of the required coursework and failure to meet the minimum standards set for either or both of the CAHSEE tests.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, Superintendent Roy Romer allowed those who did not pass the CAHSEE to participate in graduation activities if the student agreed to take the CAHSEE during the summer.


The test has highlighted educational disparities by race, disability, income, and whether English is spoken in the home. This has been politically embarrassing for school districts, who were previously able to ignore their failures.[14][15]

Though O'Connell, by then the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, resisted the political pressure for a delay,[5] the state legislature granted students with previously documented learning disabilities a one-year reprieve in 2006.[16]

In May 2006, an Alameda County Superior Court judge struck down the CAHSEE, ruling that students from disadvantaged schools, the majority of them with low income or recent immigrants, had not been appropriately prepared for the test. The California Department of Education appealed the ruling directly to the state Supreme Court,[17] which reinstated the exam and upheld the CAHSEE.

Alternative assessments, such as evaluating students based on a portfolio of class work, have been proposed and rejected.[18] Alternative assessments consider a greater range of student work, but being non-standardized assessments, they are more susceptible to bias in grading. They are also much more expensive to grade, and concerns have been raised about cheating, since a student could present work created in a completely unsupervised setting.

Supporters of the test say that since one in ten students fails the test, despite having passing grades, then receiving passing grades in California high schools does not indicate that the student has learned the material.[19] School grades may instead represent rewards from teachers "for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working" rather than mastering the subject material.[20]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  1. ^ abcd[1] California Department of Education. "Program Overview," retrieved July 7, 2006.
  2. ^ abc[2] Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times. "Exit Exam Leaves 2006 Class 42,000 Short," June 2, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  3. ^California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) Results for Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) by Program (Combined 2010) for (Grade 10): State Report from the California Department of Education's High School Exit Exam Office. File Date: 7/20/2010.
  4. ^Beasley, Kathleen (November 2002), The California High School Exit Exam: Gearing Up for The High-Stakes Test(PDF), The CSU Institute for Education Reform. 
  5. ^ ab[3] Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times. "O'Connell Is Champion of Exit Exam," May 29, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  6. ^"Bill Text - SB-172 Pupil testing: high school exit examination: suspension". Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  7. ^[4] California Department of Education. Standards and Assessment Division. "CAHSEE Language Arts Blueprint," July 9, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  8. ^[5] California Department of Education. Standards and Assessment Division. "CAHSEE Mathematics Blueprint," July 9, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  9. ^CAHSEE DataQuest. California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) 2009-10 Summary Reports: State reports (CAHSEE State Report; Combined administration; 10th grade). California Department of Education. Accessed 15 December 2010.
  10. ^"California school exams are imperiled". San Jose Mercury News. June 8, 2007. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  11. ^Marjorie Hernandez (June 18, 2007). "Most county seniors pass exit exam". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  12. ^Assembly Bill 2 of the 2009–10 Fourth Extraordinary Session (ABX4 2) (Chapter 2, Statutes of 2009), which enacted California Education Code Section 60852.3
  13. ^Fermin Leal (June 29, 2007). "Exit exam keeping 394 students from graduating". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  14. ^Weinkopf, Chris (2002). "Blame the test: LAUSD denies responsibility for low scores". Daily News.  
  15. ^"Blaming The Test". Investor's Business Daily. 11 May 2006.  
  16. ^[6] California Department of Education. "Senate Bill 517 Q&A." Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  17. ^[7] Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times. "Quick Answer Sought on Exit Exam," May 20, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  18. ^[8] Jeff Hudson, The Davis Enterprise. "Exit strategy," January 22, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  19. ^[9]Hollister Free Lance. "The Trouble With CAHSEE," January 4, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  20. ^Tyre, Peggy (27 November 2010). "A's for Good Behavior". The New York Times. 


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