CHSPE & GED (High School Equivalency Exam)
Editor Note: There are two different exams that can be taken in lieu of high school graduation:
- Age 16-17: CHSPE = California High School Proficiency Exam http://www.chspe.net/
- Age 18+: GED = General Educational Development http://www.acenet.edu/calec/ged/
Hi - My son took the CHSPE exam after his sophomore year & he has no regrets. He enrolled in 2 classes that spark his interest at our local community college & is working PT in a field he loves. He was very motivated & did all this himself. He may or may not eventually go to a 4 year university, but he's only 16 & has plenty of time to work it out while not being miserable in High School.
Good luck to you!!
My son, who should be starting his senior year of high school, took the California High School Proficiency Exam this summer. It's similar to the GRE but is only available to high school students enrolled in school/under 18 years old. Upon passing, we opted to unenroll him from school and he now has the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. (He did have the option of continuing with school even after he passed, in case he wanted to work towards getting his high school diploma). Read more about the test at www.chspe.net/about/. My son is a smart kid and enjoys learning about a variety of subjects. However, he hated almost everything about school and both early morning class times and homework were regular battles for years. My happy, smart kid disappeared and our house was filled with anger, frustration, disappointment, worry, and stress. Everyone was miserable, despite lots of interventions. We tried everything before discovering the CHSPE. My only regret is not learning about it sooner. Instead of fighting with him about school and a house filled with negativity, I have my happy, engaged and curious boy back. He's contemplating community college but is really enjoying working full time. He worked hard to get a job in an industry that excites him and has long term career potential. He sets his alarm and gets himself out the door on time for work - something that never happened with school. The CHSPE worked well for us!
Your kid can drop out and go to city college instead. Earn college credit. Take the GED later. We did it. Best decision ever.
My daughter was also at the breaking point and could not find a high school environment that would be a fit. High achieving, very creative. Just racked with anxiety and dread on the social pressures. We moved back home to the bay from the DC area where she was about to start 11th grade. We looked at homeschooling, enrolled at SF Independence High only to discover after that they didn’t have the rigor of classes available that she needed. As a high school student, CA law limits the number of college classes you can take - 1 per semester as a junior and 2 per semester as a senior. After DAYS of bureaucratic wrangling and persistence between the school, the district, and city college, we found the solution. If she dropped out, she was no longer subject to that law. She could take the GED in 2020 and already have 2 years of college credit. Shes now at CCSF full time taking horticulture, history 17A, pre-calc, English 1A with three half days on campus and wednesdays and fridays off. She’s re-engaged in her hobbies and music, re-energized and excited about academics, loves her new schedule.
Pulling off this feat was not easy! I’m happy to assist anyone who wants the cheat sheet of 50+ institutional objections you will hear along the way. No matter what they say, it’s possible bc we did it. I want to pay it forward because it’s so awesome and I think it saved her life.
I took the California High School Proficiency Exam when I was 16 and have zero regrets. I started community college right away and was able to transfer to UC Berkeley. I have a master's now too. Like your son, I was smart and my ability wasn't the problem, it's that I found the daily experience of going to school boring and other students cruel. I don't know if you can still join the police force or military (I suspect if a GED counts, so does the CHSPE), but if he enjoys learning and might be more successful in community college look into it. As a current teacher I am highly skeptical about most of the K12 online schools and their quality, and if your son is smart I doubt that would satisfy his desire to learn.
We have a similar teenager. We decided to have him test out of high school and get a job, because he was wasting everyone's time, especially his teachers, by not doing his schoolwork. He took the CHSPE in March of his junior year, and left high school at the end of that year. He worked at two part-time jobs for what would have been his senior year, he's now on a gap-year program overseas. He learned so much from working, lessons they don't teach in school - responsibility for showing up every day, the rewards of doing a good job, and the motivation of getting a paycheck. High school isn't for everyone. Think outside the box. Good luck.
Our son, who is now 20, also struggled in school, mostly because he was not motivated to do the work. We turned to lots of resources to help him - counseling, tutoring, behaviorial assessment, etc. Nothing helped, so we decided to have him test out of high school and go to work. He took the CHSPE in March of his junior year and then got some part-time jobs, he's now at junior college. He learned a lot from being in the work force, and he gained from not being in an environment where he was struggling and failing.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I have a shy 16 year old son who is a good but not highly motivated student. He thinks he wants to take the CHSPE so that he can skip his Junior and Senior year of high school and start collage at DVC Jr Collage in January. He likes the idea of taking his prerequisites now and transferring in 2 years so he is ahead of the game though he doesn't have a career path yet. He has never been involved in high school activities nor has many friends there. He goes to a relatively small high school and has grown up with most of these kids yet he has always had a hard time connecting with many kids. His dad and sister who is going to start collage this fall thinks this could be a good change for him. We think he would be able to handle the work load and is a pretty smart kid. I'm worried that he may find being surrounded with nothing but older kids could be more isolating for him and that this is not a reversible decision. Do I let him do this and get some self confidence or should I try t talk him out of it? Does anyone have any experience with this?
Many years ago, I was in your son's situation and took the GED. I wish that I had found a high school community where I fit in, where I could make friends and do all the stuff that kids are only able to do once in their lives (prom, field trips, senior pranks, being silly together, sleepovers, etc). Before your son gives up on high school, tour a few to see if he can find his tribe.
Be sure to check out Maybeck High School. My husband, an Maybeck alum, had a great time, with lots of community building experiences (camping, travelling, bike trips) - his school stories still make me jealous! Wish I could do it again
What strikes me about your post is that your son has not yet found his passion, in terms of academics. Having done so, one would hope that if he were exploring academic departments in hopes of some field of study resonating with him, he would also find friends there.
If he is smart enough to test his way out of high school, perhaps this is not a bad plan. Our daughter only made one friend in high school, due to girl-clique dynamics, but she has made plenty of friends in college.
Our son attended both DVC and CSUEB. At DVC, the faculty was without exception marvelous, and the departments seemed wonderful - from library science to music to environmental science and horticulture. But it is a commuter school, without a lot of strong on-campus activities, as far as I could see. Yet although our son did not meet new friends on campus, the academic material he learned there set the stage for later opportunities for both social and career enrichment. Amelia
Our son took and passed the CHSPE recently. He's a bright kid but didn't apply himself at school for a variety of reasons. High School was miserable for him and his attitude, behavior and spirit were in a downward spiral. Prior signing up for the test we bought a book that has sample tests and tips for taking the CHSPE. This book gave us a sense of what the test covers, and our son was able to use it as a study guide.
Our son is happy to be out of high school, and is doing very well, but I feel awful that we didn't intervene earlier and offer up other options for him before he got to the point of taking the test. (We did try a number of options, but I think we would have been more successful had we started the process earlier.) All in all, he skipped about 1-1/2 yrs of HS - that is a good deal of reading, history and science core knowledge that he missed. Of course, every person is different - it worked out for us, but I wish my son had remained in high school for a more well rounded education prior to going to college. CHISPE mom
Does anyone have a referral for a tutor/test prep for the CHSPE? My son is in High School and there is a possibility he will be headed in that direction. I am interested only in this, not opinions or other thoughts about how to keep him in high school. I'd like to hear however from parents who have helped their child accomplish this goal. Thank you in advance. A parent looking for an alternative
My son took the CHSPE 2 or 3 years ago. He did the practice test that is in the application packet and had no problem passing the test. So sorry, I don't have any tutor recommendations. His HS counselor told us that the test is only meant to be hard for kids who have been ditching school a lot. Our son was in school full time up through freshman year but things really fell apart in his sophmore year. BTW, it was the best thing he could have done--he got his act together and started taking classes at Laney the semester after passing the CHSPE. He's still in college and doing well. relieved parent
My son just passed the CHSPE this summer and started at Berkeley Community College this Fall. He's much happier and is working hard--a tremendous turn- around. It was definitely the right choice for us.
Our son worked with a school psychologist, Anthony Guarnieri, who is in Berkeley, has a lot of experience and was a great fit. Our son also took tests at home to help him prepare. The book he used was called ''CHSPE: Are you ready to Pass the the CHSPE'' and came with a CD.(He does not particularly recommend the book; says it was ''less than fantastic''. However, it did the trick).
My son's comment on the exam: ''It's really not that difficult so stress is unnecessary. A complete understanding of Algebra I and basic English are all that's needed to pass, really.'' (Grain of salt--I think it looks much easier in hindsight. After taking the exams he sweat it out because of some geometry he didn't know). Carrie
My stepson is about to take the CHSPE and leave high school with the intention of going to community college. He wants to do a vocational course such as welding or precision metalworking and get a trade certificate. We're not finding it easy to work through the websites of the colleges and figure out where to go and what to do especially to get him in partway through the semester. Is there a consultant who is good with working with teens and parents on this? Thank you all. Stepmom in Oakland
Congratulations to you and your son. Leaving high school and entering a trade program is a challenging and rewarding opportunity. If your son is mature and has set his goals, a technical trade program is an excellent stepping-stone to a good career.
The first step is to make an appointment with a community college guidance counselor to understand his options, course of study, required additional courses, testing (if needed), and skills assessment.
Community colleges are not the same - some are more academically oriented, some have excellent theater / arts programs, some are great at certificate programs, and so forth.
If your son is interested in a trade program focusing on metalwork please check out Chabot College in Hayward. http://www.chabotcollege.edu/WELD/ They have a dedicated metal arts program that is considered one of the best in the area and a student from Oakland could commute to campus via BART/AC Transit or car.
Another excellent program is at Cabrillo College in Aptos. http://www.cabrillo.edu/academics/welding/ It is a very pleasant campus (my daughter took an economics course there). And the proximity to Santa Cruz and the beaches make it very desirable - plus roommate rentals are usually cheaper than the Bay Area. Good Luck
My 16 year old daughter will shortly be ''done'' with high school, having taken the CHSPE exam because she wants to move on. She gets almost all A's but often doesn't feel challenged or respected in the high school environment. She is very self-directed, a bit of a loner who still manages to have ''followers'' due to her intensity. She often relates more to her teachers than her classmates.
She will be starting classes at Berkeley City College this spring. We're starting with BCC because it is easy for her to reach, close to my work, and has classes in digital photography, which is her eventual profession goal. I think she can handle the college work organizationally and hopefully socially. I've explained to her that not all community college teachers will be inspired or skilled in teaching, just as not all high school (or university!) teachers are. I am interested in talking to other parents of teens who have left high school and started college early and in talking to anyone who can recommend good instructors at BCC or Laney, either for art and computer tech courses or general UC transfer courses. Liz
My son took the CHSPE at 16 and then left high school after the 1st semester of his junior year. He had been quite happy socially at HS, but quite unhappy with classes and school work, and his grades were sliding. He enrolled in Expression College for Digital Arts, in Emeryville, and started about a month after leaving HS. They have a 30-month, year-round immersion program to complete a BA--it's quite structured, with from 24 to 36 hours per week in class, plus additional work outside to complete projects. He graduated on time, having missed maybe 5 or 6 days over the whole program. It really was an education that he chose, and for him, that made a huge difference.
Not all of his teachers were terrific, but some were. Some courses were definitely more interesting than others. But he bonded with a batch of students all going through the program at the same time, and they helped encourage and motivate each other. He was the youngest by a stretch, but that didn't seem to matter.
He is 20 now, and finding that he has to face the after-college questions earlier than many of his friends --like ''now what do I do with my life?'' He has a couple of part time jobs, and is gradually sorting out ''what next''.
In some ways I think the hardest thing is being at a different stage now than his closest friends, who are still the ones he went to HS with. Plus most of them went away to college, and he has missed that experience. (He still lives with us, and given the cost of living around here, probably will for at least another year.)
For him, leaving HS early and switching to college was absolutely the right thing to do. Going to a very structured program really helped. I'm not sure things would have worked as well if he had been at a Community College, but it's hard to know, since he didn't go that way.
As for art classes in our local Community Colleges--My husband took a number of art courses at Laney and Merritt in the late 90s, and had some really terrific instructors. Some have moved on, but I know that Dorcas Moulton is still at Merritt--she is quite good (watercolor).
I hope the transition goes well for your daughter. Good luck! anon
My 16.5 year old son is considering exiting high school early. He is bright but has not done well - slipping slope scenario. He has already passed the CAHSEE and if he passes his classes this year, he potentially won't have to return for his senior year. I'm not sure if this means he won't get a H.S. diploma (?) Lately he has not taken responsibility for his work/actions and we fear that he probably won't have the discipline for college right now. On the other hand, it could be just what he needs to get a fresh start and put a bad high school record behind him. Does anyone have any knowledge or advice or hindsight about this situation?
Never Thought He Wouldn't Get a H.S. Diploma
My son also had a hard time in High School. He easily passed the HS equivalency test and we were seriously thinking of sending him straight to community college rather then go into 11th grade at BHS! (Though I didn't see how he would pass the classes in community college if he couldn't pass the classes in high school.) He ended up going into the independent study program at Berkeley High for 11th and 12th grade and it totally saved him. He finished high school and is now a sophmore at a State College majoring in Chemistry. He was hanging around at home a lot those last two years because he had so little class time and I couldn't get him out of the house much - I didn't know what would become of him. I had to force him to take the SAT and apply to college, but he did and now he's there and doing well.
Got my kid through high school
I have *two* such sons! Our older son took the CHSPE exam (www.chspe.net) and entered college at age 16, graduated, and is now in an M.A./credential program for - of all things - a secondary credential in history. He figures he understands why kids can't handle high school! He has many friends who either left early or were kicked out of high school, and almost every one of them is doing well - one's on the Dean's list at UCSC at age 25 (it took him a while), another is becoming a nurse, another is a union organizer, etc. There are more kids described at groups.yahoo.com/group/schoolsnotforboys - some of these guys also left high school via the CHSPE; some are in community college, at least two attend Ex\x92pression in Emeryville, and some are still struggling. Some of my younger son\x92s friends are becoming mechanics at community college, sound arts technicians at Ex\x92pression, etc. Check out the schoolsnotforboys group, because we've compiled resources that may be helpful to you and your son. Been there!
My son left high school after 10th grade for various reasons. (Bright but terrible grades, no interest, couldn't stand the high school ''scene'', etc.) He passed the Ca High School Equivilency Exam (CHSPE - there is one given in June) which, I think, is the equivalent of a diploma, and went on to a Community College then transferred to a 4 year and was very motivated and did very well.
I was very worried about him for many reasons, but felt that I had no choice but to let him try something different. For him, when he felt that he could make his own choices, he made very good ones.
My daughter who had very good grades just decided she was tired of high school and couldn't do another year, so she enrolled in Independent studies and a community college concurrently and graduated a year early then went on to a community college and transfered. It worked for us
Years ago, I graduated from high school a year early. I was bright and did quite well until high school, when my grades began slipping and I stopped doing much work. Midway through my junior year, I noticed that by the end of the year I would have all I'd need to graduate early, and since I was miserable and hated school, I went ahead and did it. I started college in the fall, bombed out within a couple of months, and then worked until I felt ready to try again the following year, right when I would have anyway if I had stayed in school. It took me many years to get over what felt like a huge messy failure.
In retrospect, I think I hated school and my grades were poor because I was immature for my age. I should have stuck it out another year, maybe taking fun/light courses. I also think it would have made a big difference if my parents had had me evaluated for depression and seen about treatment, but there was much less awareness about depression in those days. Everyone is different, but given my personal experience, I would urge your to be very careful about letting your son graduate on to the next stage in life when he's not performing all that well in his current one. regret having done it
My son is very intelligent (1490 on the SAT) but has never liked school. He is a senior, and seriously considering leaving school and taking the GED. He has talked about this before, and I encouraged him to stay in school. He has just turned 18, and it seems different now.
Do you know any success stories for kids who have taken the GED instead of finishing high school? Any horror stories? Any advice or information would be most appreciated. Thank you!
I know of a few examples of kids who successfully pursued alternative paths to high school. In all cases they were pretty self-directed, though, and knew what they wanted. These are all friends of my own son: one finished early through Berkeley's Independent Studies and is a freshman in college a year ahead of schedule; another took the CHSPE after 10th grade, went to Diablo Valley and is now applying to 4 year colleges as an 18 year old junior. Another boy who was exceptionally bright through middle school, has had a very tough time in high school, tested out and is now happily in residence at the Green Gulch Farm of the Zen Center. Diana
I know of two intelligent, bored high school students who took the test and started community college or a job. It's been two years, and they and their parents think this option worked out fine. Anonymous
To the mom who asked for success stories on kids who take the GED and leave high school--I'm one, 20 years ago. I actually dropped out of high school without taking the GED officially (I took in in eighth grade, and passed, but was too young to have it recorded). I hated school and had been hospitalized for depression--a really messed up kid. After trying me in five different high schools my mom finally let me drop out. She sent me to a trade school to learn computer programming, and when I finished I went to work full-time and moved out. After a year I was totally bored with my job so I started going to community college at night, taking math and science courses. Three years later I transferred into UCLA's engineering program as a junior, then graduated magna cum laude. I paid for it all myself by working and getting scholarships. I put myself through engineering grad school the same way and finished my MS degree two years later. My mom and I stayed close throughout, and I thank god every day that she let me leave high school, because I consider that to be the point at which my life really started. Obviously a different situation from what you're facing, but still, I do think that there is still hope even if a kid decides to abandon high school. There are many alternative paths. The key thing, to my mind, is to stay on the same side as your child, and understand that not everyone is made for high school. Good luck to you and your son--as a mom I now understand how hard this is from the other side. anon engineer/mom
There are posts in the same newsletter that seem relevant to your concern about your bright 18 year old who would like to leave HS, so I don't want to duplicate. One of our sons entered UCLA at 16, and we know many other kids who left high school early via CHSPE or GED and entered college. Most were much better off for moving on, but I'm not convinced that it was because they were 'bright but bored' necessarily, but, rather, they were struggling with too many issues and needed to move on somehow someway somewhere. Growing up is just challenging - kids with and without academic talent have difficult times in high school and need to move on. Anyway, check out some of the other resources mentioned in the newsletter - internships, community college, etc. Consider also talking with a college counselor to see if your son has taken enough courses to enter a UC or CSU; in our case, Rory Bled was our savior. If your son doesn't have sufficient units, you may find an alternative college that won't care. Our son was way too young to go to college at 16 (he figured that out in hindsight), but was dropping out of HS with absolutely no plan whatsoever, and he was able to sort himself out and graduate in 5 1/2 years, about the time he would have anyway. a parent who has been there!
I understand that there are two different tests a student can take who wants to take a high school equivalency test rather than to graduate from high school. One is the GED. The other may be the CHSPE. Anyone who has information about the CHSPE and how it differs from the GED, I'd appreciate a posting from you. Thanks! Sue
If students have completed the course requirements for college admissions (and have the grades, SATs, experience etc.), most colleges and universities accept CHSPE in lieu of high school graduation - I know, because my son left high school after 11th grade and used the CHSPE option to enroll in UCLA. The website is: http://www.chspe.com/ You may take CHSPE if, on testing day, you: are 16 or older, (no upper age limit) or have completed at least one academic year of the tenth grade, or are enrolled in the second semester of tenth grade.
CHSPE is generally considered a bit more difficult than the GED examination, but I'm sure there are other differences. We didn't research them, because the college counselor said CHSPE was the exam to take.
GED vs. CHSPE To take the GED, a student must be 18 years old, or a drop-out for 6 months. The GED consists of 5 or 6 parts, including direct writing, science, math, and english/reading comprehension. You can take the test in sections; once you pass a section (e.g. math), you don't have to take that section again, even if you do not pass the other sections. The total test is about 10 hours long. Most community colleges, adult schools, and continuation schools have GED review courses and can administer the test whenever the student feels ready to try it. There is a standardized pre-test which is used as a predictor of success. The GED is recognized in all 50 states.
To take the CHSPE, a student must be 16 years old. The CHSPE is usually given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. I think the test is 3 or 4 hours long, and covers mostly math and english. You can get review books for both tests at libraries or book stores. A student needs a parent/gaurdian signiture to leave school, even if she passes the test...a student may continue to attend school if she passes the test. The CHSPE is not recognized in all 50 states, but states other than California do recognize it. -Jon
I would like to know how I can get more information on the R - 4 affadavit discussion on the newsletter around April 4 under the heading: Parents Advice about School: Taking the High School Equivalency Exam. Can anyone let me know which agency I contact to get this and does anyone have experience doing this and advice for me? Thanks Sherry
The California Homeschool Network has information on their website about the R-4 affidavit process. You can order their information packet, which has instructions about filling it out, where to send it, etc. There is also a CD you can order. Their website is http://www.cahomeschoolnet.org. Diane
I don't have the info about R4's at hand, but here's a link to a homeschooling organization that has info on it: http://www.homefires.com/affidavit.htm (I don't know anything about these folks; it's just the first thing that came up in a web search). Good luck, Dawn