SACRAMENTO -- The number of California high school dropouts spiked in 2006, the first year seniors were required to pass the state's exit exam, according to a report presented Wednesday to the state Board of Education.
As a result, California's high school graduation rate fell about 4 percent.
The analysis found 24,000 high school seniors dropped out in 2006, about 10,000 more than just four years earlier.
The firm that prepared the report, Human Resources Research Organization of Alexandria, Va., recommended that California explore other ways for high school seniors to demonstrate proficiency. In Massachusetts and Washington state, for example, students can be judged on a portfolio of their high school work.
The exam measures 10th-grade English and ninth-grade math and algebra skills.
Little is known about the students who fail the test and disappear.
The report recommends that the state begin tracking those students to see what happens to them when they leave the public school system.