Ramona High School sophomores—and 10th-graders districtwide—did slightly better on the 2011-2012 high school exit exam than their county and state peers, according to figures released Wednesday.
But math-exam pass rates for last year’s sophomores were behind rates for the 10th-graders of 2010-2011.
Some 411 of 452 (91 percent) Ramona 10th-graders passed the math portion of the California High School Exit Examination (or CAHSEE) last school year, and 412 of 456 (90 percent) passed the English-language arts section over several opportunities.
In 2010-11, however, Ramona High School’s math pass rate was 93 percent and the so-called ELA pass rate was 90 percent. Districtwide, the math rate was 91 percent and ELA rate was 89 percent.
In 2001-2002, the second year some sophomores statewide took the test for practice, the Ramona High School pass rates were 35 percent (88 of 253) for math and 54 percent (80 of 148) for ELA.
The San Diego County pass rates in 2011-2012 were 88 percent for math and 86 percent for English. And the statewide 10th-grade pass rate was 84 percent for math and 83 percent for English. More than 465,000 10th-graders took the test in 2011-2102 in California.
Districtwide, which includes Montecito High School and other sophomores in Ramona, 90 percent passed both the math and so-called ELA parts of the test—which is required for high school graduation.
For more results—including breakdowns by race/ethnicity, gender, language fluency and economic status—see the state CAHSEE site.
When juniors and seniors are factored in, the percentage of California students from the Class of 2012 meeting the CAHSEE graduation requirement rose slightly over last year to 95 percent, marking the sixth straight year of improving performance, said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
“When 95 percent of California students are hitting the mark—despite the tremendous challenges we face and the work we still have to do—there’s an awful lot going right in our public schools,” Torlakson said.
“I congratulate the students who succeeded on this test, the teachers who provided invaluable instruction, and the parents who gave their support and encouragement.”
The CAHSEE is given each year to ensure that students who graduate from public high schools demonstrate competency in reading, writing and mathematics. Students who do not pass the CAHSEE in grade 10 have two opportunities in grade 11 and up to five chances in grade 12 to pass the exam.
The preliminary 2011-12 results—which are for the July, October, November and December 2011 and the February, March, and May 2012 test administrations—show increased passing rates among most demographic subgroups of students by the end of their senior year, the state said in a press release.
Some of the largest gains were made by African American and Hispanic students.
Overall, about 95 percent, or 424,480 students, in the Class of 2012 successfully passed both the ELA and the mathematics portions of the CAHSEE by the end of their senior year.
This was an increase of 0.8 percentage point over the previous year and an increase of 4.6 percentage points since the Class of 2006, the first class required to pass the CAHSEE.
“While I’m happy about the progress made by the Class of 2012, I still have concerns for the Class of 2013, the Class of 2014, and all the classes that will follow,” Torlakson said.
“We have made solid improvement, but schools and districts are facing some unprecedented challenges right now. Overcrowded classrooms, shorter school years, and fewer teachers are in store for us unless we stop the cuts to education funding and begin restoring some of what has been cut in recent years.”
This year's overall passing rate did not include students with disabilities as these students are currently exempt from meeting the CAHSEE requirement, except for taking the exam in grade ten to meet state and federal requirements.
Many of the students, however, continue to take the exam. For the Class of 2012, the passing rate for students with disabilities was 55.5 percent compared to 56.3 percent last year and 47.8 percent for the Class of 2006.
Among African Americans, 91.9 percent of the Class of 2012 passed the exam, an increase of 2.3 percentage points over the Class of 2011 and 8.2 percentage points over the Class of 2006.
Equally significant, according to the state, were gains made by Hispanic or Latino students of the Class of 2012, who had passing rates of 93.1 percent, an increase of 1.4 percentage points over the Class of 2011 and 7.6 points over the Class of 2006.
Asian students passed the test at a rate of 97.8 percent or 0.7 of a percentage point improvement over last year; and white students passed at a rate of 98.6 percent, or 0.4 of a percentage point increase over last year.
The gap between Hispanic and white students has narrowed by 12.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014 (who were 10th-graders this past school year) for the ELA portion of the CAHSEE.
For the math portion, the gap between Hispanic and white students has narrowed by 12.9 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014.
Similarly, the gap between African American and white students has narrowed by 7.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014 in ELA. And in mathematics, the gap between African American and white students has narrowed by 10.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014.
Passed in 1999, the law mandating exit exams for high school students didn’t take full effect until 2006—and had to survive a court challenge.
The state Department of Education appealed a May 2006 ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court judge, which struck down the CAHSEE, ruling that students from disadvantaged schools had not been appropriately prepared for the test.
But the state Supreme Court reinstated the exam and upheld the CAHSEE.