Navigating the Entertainment Industry in Los Angeles can be daunting for adults, but as parents of teen actors, there are even more considerations when trying to give your child better odds of success as a working actor. In an industry where rejection is more commonplace that reward, parents are often tasked with removing hurdles and making decisions that will allow the career machine to run smoothly and productively. Getting the best agents or managers, the best marketing materials and headshots, and the best training are essential for success in Hollywood. But even then, families can sometimes be frustrated by a lack of momentum in their child’s acting career. As parents systematically review obstacles to remove, one consideration might be to help your teen actor achieve adult working status by obtaining a certificate of proficiency from the state of California.
The California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) is a testing program developed under California law. Passing the CHSPE is the legal equivalent of a high school diploma and therefore allows teen actors to work as adults. This means fewer restrictions for production companies, allowing them to keep young actors on set for more hours and without the need for onset tutors. Simply put, if casting comes down to a decision between two teen actors with similar talent and similar credits, the decision might come down to which actor can work as a legal adult. In this situation, holding a certificate of proficiency might give your teen actor the edge to win the role.
In order to qualify to take the CHSPE, you must be at least 16 years old or halfway through tenth grade. You must register for the CHSPE (https://chspe.net/registration/form/) and have a valid form of identification. Be prepared to pay a registration fee online of $130 with a credit card. The CHSPE if offered three times a year (usually October, March and June) and each testing lasts about 3.5 hours.
It’s important to realize that the CHSPE is not the equivalent of a GED. After passing the CHSPE, your child can stay in classes and continue to pursue their high school diploma. After passing the CHSPE, you can allow your child to stop attending classes with your written permission. And if you choose, you can take a hiatus from classes and reenroll in classes if the student is under 18 years old.
If your family decides to that taking the CHSPE is a good choice for child’s career, it’s probably a good idea to prepare for the test. Some students breeze through the test which focuses primarily on math and english skills. Others struggle. But because the test is only offered three times a year and you're paying a fee each time you take it, you might want to prepare yourself for the challenge by hiring a private tutor. A quick google search for “CHSPE private tutors” will result in an abundance of skilled and reviewed tutoring companies. Also, study.com has a practice and study guide to give you and idea of what you’re up against (https://study.com/academy/course/chspe-practice-study-guide.html). There is also sample test questions at the CHSPE website (https://www.chspe.net/about/specs-samples/secure/CHSPE_Sample_Questions.pdf).
If you’re not sure if taking the CHSPE is the right step for your family, you’ll want to consult with your agency or manager. Taking the CHSPE isn’t a guarantee of work and depending on where your child is in their career will determine how important it is for them to work as a legal adult. If the benefits of passing the test aren’t worth the hassle, your representatives will be sure to let you know. Ultimately taking and passing the CHSPE should result in removing an obstacle in your child’s career path. If the process of taking and passing the test causes more stress and work than the benefits it provides, it might not be worth the trouble.
For more information on the California High School Proficiency Exam, check out their website at CHSPE.net.