SFUSD defies state, allows students to graduate without exit exam

San Francisco Unified School District board members tonight voted unanimously to award diplomas to students who had been left unable to graduate due to a state decision to stop offering the state exit exam.

The board decision to award diplomas to 107 students who had otherwise completed all graduation requirements was made in defiance of state graduation requirements, district officials said.

The exit exam is typically offered several times during the year with one final opportunity in July for graduating seniors who still need to pass.

However, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson recently canceled the July test in response to pending state legislation that would suspend the exam as a graduation requirement for the next several years, district officials said.

The decision has left thousands of graduating seniors throughout the state unable to complete their graduation requirements, and disproportionately affects students of color, English Learners and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, district officials said. Some students have been told their college admissions would be revoked or delayed because they have not earned their diplomas.

On Friday evening, Superintendent Richard Carranza said on Twitter:

“We stand with our students and their earned diplomas.”

While the suspension of the exit exam has affected students statewide, San Francisco is the first district to vote to defy state graduation requirements.

The district appears to have some support at the state level, however, as Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, spoke in support of their actions via Twitter:

“I’m committed to working with colleagues to fix this issue at the state level.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris also issued a statement Friday calling on state leaders to fix the problem:

“As a result of a thoughtless bureaucratic blunder, thousands of high school graduates face the prospect of not being able to enroll in college, serve their country through the military or pursue other professional goals. This oversight creates real and immediate harm for these students.”