By Nguyen Huy Vu and Melissa Pamer, Staff Writers | Daily Breeze
Neither Life nor Public Education is all about Test Scores, or who scores the test or who interprets the data — Framing the Good News as Good News:
- Nearly all Los Angeles Unified campuses - as well as the district itself - saw a jump in the exit exam pass rates
- Los Angeles Unified had gains in sophomore English language-learners passing the exit exam , an increase of 5 and 4 percentage points respectively from a year ago.
- Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in Wilmington continued to perform well, with 97 percent passing math and English.
- San Pedro High School saw a 10-point jump in its pass rate for math, along with an English rate that exceeded the state average.
09/10/2008 -- A higher rate of local sophomores passed the California High School Exit Examination on their first try in 2008 than in the previous year, according to data released Tuesday by education officials.
Local schools largely outperformed state averages, with the exception of most campuses in the Los Angeles Unified, Centinela Valley Union, and Inglewood Unified school districts.
The California Department of Education data, which came from tests in the 2007-08 school year, also showed a persistent achievement gap for Latino and black students when compared with Asians and whites.
Since 2006, California sophomores have been required to pass the two-part exit exam - known as CAHSEE - to earn a diploma. Students who fail have up to seven more opportunities to pass both portions of the exam by the end of their senior year. Students can continue to take the exit exam after their senior year to earn a high school diploma.
Statewide, 78 percent of sophomores passed the math exam and 79 percent passed English. Both rates rose 2 percentage points over the previous year.
Hawthorne Math & Science Academy was one of the highest performing schools in the region, with 99 percent of students passing math and 100 percent passing English-language arts.
Principal Joaquin Hernandez credits the success to teacher and student efforts coupled with the school's stress of critical and analytical skills.
"It's a necessary evil that we have to get through," he said. "We're not going to focus on the test because the test is a byproduct of what you've been working on and working through."
Hernandez was pleased with Tuesday's results but said there is still work to be done.
"We're not where we need to be. If we're 99 percent, that means one kid didn't get it done," he said. "And obviously if one kid doesn't get it done, then we've technically failed that kid."
Other high schools cruising through the exit exam include Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Mira Costa in Manhattan Beach and El Segundo High.
School districts that performed better than the state average included Torrance Unified, Redondo Beach Unified and El Segundo Unified.
Not all area schools surpassed state averages. Although nearly all Los Angeles Unified campuses - as well as the district itself - saw a jump in the exit exam pass rates, LAUSD overall lagged nearly 10 percentage points behind the state average, with 70 percent of sophomores passing the English test and 67 percent passing the math.
Gardena High School, which came in on the bottom of local LAUSD campuses, saw a significant drop in the number of sophomore English-language learners passing the English test - 18 percent from 32 percent in 2006.
But there were some bright spots in LAUSD. Sophomores at small Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in Wilmington continued to perform well, with 97 percent passing math and English. And San Pedro High School saw a 10-point jump in its pass rate for math, along with an English rate that exceeded the state average - making it the top large LAUSD campus in the region.
The district announced Tuesday that 75 percent of current 12th-graders and 57 percent of 11th-graders have passed both portions of the CAHSEE.
Los Angeles Unified also saw modest gains in sophomore English language-learners passing the exit exam - up to 37 percent in math and 30 percent in English, an increase of 5 and 4 percentage points respectively from a year ago.
The district's numbers also reflected a statewide trend showing a continuing gap in the passage rates for black and Latino students compared with white and Asians.
For black 10th-graders statewide, the gap closed last year in both math and English. Sixty-two percent of black sophomores passed math, 27 points behind whites. The rate for English was 68 percent, 22 points behind whites.
Latino 10th-graders showed a gap of 19 points for math and 20 points for English behind whites.
The gap was persistent even when comparing poor whites with Latinos and blacks who were not economically disadvantaged, state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said.
"We still have a long road ahead of us," O'Connell said. "Closing the achievement gap really is the civil rights challenge of our time."
Overall, the state said that 90.2 percent of students in the class of 2008 passed the exit exam before graduation - the lowest rate since CAHSEE became a requirement for a diploma three years ago.
Education officials said the drop came from the inclusion of special education students, who were last year required to pass the exit exam to earn a diploma for the first time. About 60 percent of graduating special education students passed the exit exam this year.
The exit exam passage rates would have improved to 93.6percent from 93.3 percent last year without the inclusion of special education students, state officials said.
District-level numbers showing the passage rates for the class of 2008 will be available when an annual independent evaluation and analysis of the test is released in January.
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