Legislation approved Tuesday by the Legislative Budget Conference Committee to eliminate the California High School Exit Exam that is expected to go to both houses of the legislature early next week, is eliciting alarm from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

O’Connell asked the committee to revisit “this ill conceived decision” and called the action a huge setback for California students.

“The implementation of the California High School Exit Exam is the greatest high school reform effort we have made in a generation. The argument that our expectations should be lowered because of budget cuts to public education, heaps insult on injury to students and teachers who are being impacted by the budget crisis.”

Eliminating the exam is projected to save the state an estimated $8 million, according to the superintendent’s office.

According to O’Connell’s office, if the proposal passes, the exit exam would no longer count as a graduation requirement, but would continue to be administered to sophomores, because it is part of California’s adherence to the Federal No Child Left Behind accountability standards.

The exit exam has remained a controversial test since it was initially proposed.

A recent report by Stanford University researchers found the exit exam has been detrimental to low-achieving minorities and female students and resulted in nearly 20,0000 youngsters in the classes of 2006 and 2007 not graduating.