California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)
In The Classroom
Issue 2: Using the CAHSEE Study Guides
Overview of the Study Guides addition, students can generate and
discuss their own test-taking tips as a
The California Department of Education (CDE) pre-reading activity before reviewing the
has produced two California High School Exit “Information for Students” section.
Examination (CAHSEE) study guides: one
for English-language arts (ELA) and one for Practice Test
mathematics. The guides were updated in Released CAHSEE test questions are provided
October 2008 and are located on the CAHSEE in the beginning of both guides. While these
Program Resources Web page at questions provide students with valuable
http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/resources.asp. experience, they cannot be used as predictors
of student performance on the CAHSEE. More
This issue of CAHSEE in the Classroom information about using released test questions
provides an overview of the study guides. The can be found in the document “Guidelines on
bulleted “keys” provide suggestions about how Academic Preparation for State Assessments”
the guides can be used in the classroom. at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/documents/
Layout of the Study Guides
Frequently Asked Questions and Information The ELA practice test includes three writing
for Students tasks. Teachers may want to familiarize students
The frequently asked questions provide students with the way the tasks are presented, giving
with basic information about the CAHSEE, for special attention to the checklists that are
example, what is on the test, how long it takes included with each task.
to get individual results, and how the test results
affect students. The information for students ELA checklists can become a routine
includes both general test-taking tips, as well as part of the students’ writing process as
specific tips for preparing for the CAHSEE. students draft and revise essays in the
an introduction before receiving the
As Scoring Guides section located under
guides, students can generate questions the “Writing Applications” tab can be used
they have about the CAHSEE and then use by teachers to assess student writing.
the “Frequently Asked Questions” section The commentary provided for each of
to find the answers. the student responses can help teachers
ensure that they are evaluating student
California Department of Education December 2008 1
CAHSEE IN THE CLASSROOM SERIES
responses in the same way they are scored
Students can use the strategies as models
on the CAHSEE. to create their own sample “strategies” for
Teachers can involve students by having other released test questions.
them use the scoring guides to review and
revise their own writing. In the mathematics guide, four of the sections
addition, students can use the scoring
– number sense; statistics, data analysis and
probability; measurement and geometry; and
guides to assess sample essays or to
Algebra 1 – include a sample problem in which
conduct peer draft workshops.
students learn how the skills are used in “real-
life” situations. These problems help students
Overview of Standards
understand the value of learning the knowledge
The ELA and mathematics study guides include
and skills in that area.
a one-page section that provides an overview
of the standards covered on each of the exams.
This section lists the six strands covered
Teachers can have students generate ad-
ditional “real life” situations that use mathe-
on each test and the number of items (test
matics standards included in the CAHSEE.
questions) for each strand. Teachers can review
this page with students and make sure students
A list of the CAHSEE mathematics vocabulary
understand what the CAHSEE is measuring.
words and their definitions is provided in
the appendix at the end of the CAHSEE
Organization of Strand Sections
mathematics guide. This list can be used
Following the “Overview of Standards” section
throughout instruction to help all students
are six strand sections headed by a graphic
understand the language used in various
that reviews all of the strands and the number
CAHSEE mathematics questions.
of test questions in each strand. The guide also
includes tabs on the sides of each page so the
user can easily find a specific section in the
math vocabulary list may be especially
useful for English learners in particular.
guide. This organization should make it easier
Teachers may want to provide each English
for students to locate and focus on individual
learner a copy of the list. As students work
strands as needed.
through mathematics problems during
instruction, they can use the vocabulary list
Following the introduction in each strand section
to become proficient at understanding the
are released test questions followed by a
“strategy” or “solution” section that explains how
a student might find the correct answers.
Questions or Comments?
Teachers can have students apply the
If you have any questions about the series or
requests for future issues, please contact the
strategies to other CAHSEE released
CAHSEE office at 916-445-9449 or by e-mail at
test questions for that strand. (Additional
CAHSEE released test questions are
located on the CAHSEE Program
Resources Web page at http://www.cde. THE NEXT ISSUE
“Using the CAHSEE Teacher Guides”
California Department of Education December 2008 2