California High School Proficiency Exam has both advantages and disadvantages

Photo courtesy of Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu via Unsplash

By Jane Hanna

The California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) is an optional state test in which applicants are time-tested on their English and math skills. If the examinee passes the exam, they are qualified to graduate early and receive an equivalent of their high school diploma. 

Students who wish to take this exam must be at least 16 years old by the test date, or have already finished their sophomore year. If they are not 16 years old by the application date, but will be on the day of the test, the testee must get a form signed by both his or her high school and parents. 

To register for the exam, students must pay a fee of about $230. If the high schooler does not pass the exam, they will not receive a refund. To pass this exam, individuals must pass both the English and math sections. Failure to pass one of the subjects will result in no certificate, and they must retake the section in order to leave high school early. 

Students have 3.5 hours to finish all parts of the exam, and will not be granted any additional time. A proctor will be in the classroom to supervise, but will not instruct the students on when should be done with a specific section of the exam. This means that the students must have good time management and plan out how they will finish the exam.

The English section of the exam has two parts: reading and writing. Students will have to write an argumentative essay, and pass with a 2.5 out of 5 points. They must also answer multiple choice questions that require reading and comprehension. If the student receives a 2.5 on the essay, then they need to pass the multiple choice with a 365. The minimum score on the multiple choice depends on how well the student does on the essay. 

The math portion of the exam consists of many branches of the subject such as number sense and operations, algebra, geometry and measurement. To pass this section, students must score a minimum of 350. 

The CHSPE does allow students to graduate early, allowing them to able to begin college early as well. This way, they are able to finish their education quicker and be able to start working sooner. 

“Taking the CHSPE and leaving high school early has affected my social life and mental health in many ways. I no longer have to deal with the stress that high school puts on its students and my schedule is way more lenient. I am very content with my school life now in college and do not regret my decision of taking the exam at all,” College of the Canyons student Miriam Hanna said.

However, if a student takes the exam and leaves high school early, they will be considered a high school dropout and will be recorded as so. There is a significant difference between showing proficiency on an exam and receiving a high school diploma, so it is recommended to stay and finish high school. 

“When a student takes the CHSPE and decides not to earn the high school diploma, they do show up on our records as a drop out,” Counseling Administrative Director Gina Corpus said. 

There are many jobs that require students to submit a high school diploma to be considered.

Students who do carry on with the proficiency exam will only be allowed into community colleges, unlike those who finish high school, in which they are able to apply to four year colleges as well. 

Another downside to taking the exam is that it is a California exam, so it may not be recognized in other states.

 Regardless, taking the CHSPE exam has both advantages and disadvantages, depending on each student. Students should strongly consider both sides before deciding whether or not to take the exam and leave high school early.