More than 90 percent of tenth graders in the William S. Hart Union High School District passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on their first try, according to figures released today by the California Department of Education. Like the state, students in the Hart District have made small gains in the number of students who pass the test when they take it the first time, compared to last year.
Among tenth graders who took the CAHSEE last March for the first time, 91 percent passed. The results for March 2009 showed 90 percent passing.
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Those figures include English language learners and students in special education, according to Dave LeBarron, the Hart District’s director of curriculum and assessment.
Every tenth grader takes the CAHSEE for the first time in March, with a make-up test in May for those who were absent at the March testing and for high school seniors seeking one more chance to pass the exam. The state figures released today include results from both the March and May test cycles.
“We are pleased with the results,” LeBarron commented. “Our pass rate is quite a bit higher than both the state and the county.”
Overall, 86 percent of Hart District students who took the CAHSEE in 2010 passed the English/language arts portion of the test, compared with 71 percent of Los Angeles County students and 74 percent in the state. In math, 89 percent of Hart District students taking the CAHSEE passed, compared with 71 percent in Los Angeles County and 75 percent in the state.
The graduating class of 2010 was the fifth required to pass the CAHSEE, and less than one percent of Hart District seniors failed to receive diplomas because they did not pass one or more sections of the exit exam. The district has created a number of intervention programs to help students who do not pass the test the first time they try—primarily English language learners and students in special education.
Hispanic or Latino students ran slightly below the Hart District average, with a 74 percent pass rate in English/language arts, still above the county average for all students, and equal to the overall state average. English learners scored a 42 percent pass rate, but Hart District English learners who had been redesignated as proficient in English achieved a 93 percent pass rate, even greater than Hart District students who were classified as English-only.
Once students have passed the exit exam, they do not take the test again. Those who fail one or both portions of the test can re-take the exam several times a year until the end of their senior year. Those who complete all of their course requirements in the Hart District but do not pass the CAHSEE are allowed to participate in high school graduation ceremonies and receive a certificate of completion in lieu of a diploma.
The percentage of Hart District tenth graders who pass both parts of the CAHSEE on their first try has remained near the 90 percent mark since the test was first introduced by the state of California. The CAHSEE pass rate is one measure of Adequate Yearly Progress which the federal government uses to assess the quality of education in schools across the nation. It is also used to calculate the state’s Academic Performance Index for all schools.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said that the results show the state’s public high school students continue to make steady progress in passing the test, which is a statewide graduation requirement.
“I am pleased that the latest Exit Exam results show that more of our students are mastering the mathematics and English-language arts skills measured by this exam,” O’Connell said. “Passing the Exit Exam is a high school graduation requirement because students need these important basic skills to be successful in college, the workforce, and in life.”
By the end of their senior year, approximately 94.5 percent, or more than 419,600 students in the Class of 2010, successfully passed both the English-language arts and mathematics portions of the CAHSEE.
The latest data indicate that an increasing percentage of students are passing the CAHSEE in the tenth grade, which is the first opportunity students have to take it. Some 80.6 percent of the Class of 2012 has already passed the English-language arts portion, compared to 79.2 percent of tenth graders in the Class of 2011. In mathematics, the passage rate for first-time test takers in the Class of 2012 is 80.7 percent, an increase of 0.9 percent over the Class of 2011.
The results among subgroups of students show the achievement gap is narrowing. By the end of their senior year, the cumulative passing rate for Black or African American students was 89.7 percent; Hispanic or Latino students, 91.6 percent; Asian students, 97.4 percent; and white students, 98.1 percent.
When comparing the first-time test takers in the Class of 2006 to the first-time test takers in Class of 2012, the achievement gap between Hispanic or Latino and white students has decreased by an estimated 8.6 percentage points in English-language arts and by 8.9 percentage points in mathematics. The achievement gap between Black or African American and white students is estimated to have decreased over the same time span by 5.9 percentage points on the English-language arts portion of the test and by 8.1 percentage points in mathematics.
“Closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all students are prepared with these critical skills must remain a top priority,” O’Connell said. “I applaud the hard work of our students, teachers, and school staff that has resulted in the gap narrowing, but we cannot rest until it is fully erased and all students are meeting their full potential.”
Students with disabilities are currently exempt from meeting the CAHSEE requirement; however, many of these students continue to take the exam. For the Class of 2010, the passing rate for students with disabilities was 53.4 percent.
On July 14, 2010, the State Board of Education determined that alternative means to the CAHSEE are feasible and directed the California Department of Education to draft regulations to extend the implementation date for alternative means from January 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012. The exemption from meeting the CAHSEE requirement for students with disabilities remains in place until alternative means are implemented.
Students who have failed one or both parts of the CAHSEE by the end of their senior year are eligible to continue to take the test and earn a high school diploma. According to preliminary analysis conducted by Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), CDE’s independent evaluator, an estimated 417 additional students from the Class of 2006 (the first graduation class that was required to meet the CAHSEE requirement) persisted in taking the test and successfully met the CAHSEE requirement between July 2009 and May 2010; an estimated 677 additional students from the Class of 2007 passed the examination by May 2010; an estimated 1,329 additional students from the Class of 2008 passed the examination by May 2010; and an estimated 4,514 additional students from the Class of 2009 passed by May 2010.
For the Class of 2010, approximately 24,615 (See Table 3) students have not yet met the requirement. Due to the state budget crisis, funding intended for intensive remediation for students struggling to pass the CAHSEE was included in the list of categorical programs that can be used for any general educational purpose, however. O’Connell has called on schools and districts to continue to offer additional focused instructional services to help struggling students master the skills measured on the CAHSEE and meet the graduation requirement.
School-, district-, county-, and state-level 2010 results for the CAHSEE have been posted on the CDE Web site at http://cahsee.cde.ca.gov/