The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board of education has determined that students who have completed graduation requirements but have not passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) will receive a certificate of completion instead of a diploma, and will participate in the graduation ceremonies.

Currently 95 percent of the eligible seniors in the district have passed the exam.

The next California High School Exit Exam test results were to be released before June 1st.

The State of California has left it up to the individual school districts to determine whether or not students who have not passed the state test can participate in graduation.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he supports the California Supreme Court decision of Tuesday, May 23rd, granting a request by the California Department of Education to stay a lower court order.

That ruling, handed down Friday, May 12th, by an Alameda County Superior Court judge, blocked the requirement that public school students pass a high school exit exam in order to graduate.

In the case O’Connell v. Superior Court (Valenzuela), the state’s high court also acted on the California Department of Education request for a writ of mandate, by issuing an “order to show cause” and sending the case to the state Court of Appeal, First Appellate District (San Francisco), for further action.

“I am extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has reinstated the California High School Exit Exam as a condition for graduation,” O’Connell said.

As a result, school districts can continue their graduation exercises as planned before litigation began.

“Students who have worked hard to pass this exam will be given a diploma that signifies their mastery of essential skills in reading and math,” O’Connell said. “I hope that this decision will give students in the class of 2006, their parents, and their schools certainty.”

The state is uncertain when the Court of Appeal will hand down a decision.

Until that time, the state test will remain a requirement to receive a Santa Monica-Malibu district diploma.

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