Many people confuse the high school tests, CAHSEE and the CHESPE, so I decided to look into it and clarify some things.
CAHSEE is the “California High School Exit Exam”. It is for public high school students. They must pass this test to graduate from public high school despite passing classes and appropriate credits. New Common Core standards, state law changes, and budget concers are making changes to the CAHSEE program. That would affect public school students only. Private school students are not required to take this test. Private schools make their own graduation requirements.
Here’s an older article from 2013 regarding the coming changes.
Future of high school exit exam unclear as California revamps testing requirements
and this more recent letter from the CDE.
The CHSPE is the “California High School Proficiency Exam”. Under Education Code Section 48412, students who have reached the age of 16 can take this test instead of finishing high school. Once the test is passed and the student has permission from their parents, they are exempt from compulsory education. This test is not required of public or private school students. It is only for students wanting to leave high school early.
If you file as a private school for your high school student, you will set your own graduation requirements. Your student must remain enrolled in a school until they are 18 years old. When they reach that age and have satisfied your graduation requirements, you can give them a diploma. It is a valid high school diploma.
If you are enrolled in a charter school or an independent study program, when your student reaches 18 years old they must satisfy that school’s graduation requirements and pass the CAHSEE (or it’s equivalent depending on the new laws) to receive a diploma from that school.
Or your student can take and pass the CHSPE to leave high school before they are 18 years old.
I hope this clears some things up.