Most local high school students pass exit exam on first try, data show

But schools here and statewide still face challenges reaching English learners and low-income students

acornejo@thetribunenews.comAugust 22, 2012 

Most San Luis Obispo County 10th-graders pass the state’s high school exit exam on their first try, according to data released by the California Department of Education on Wednesday.

The exam, which is first given to students in their sophomore year of high school, measures math and English proficiency.

In the 2011-12 school year, 89 percent of sophomores tested passed the math portion of the exam, and 88 percent passed the English portion. There were 2,604 students tested in math and 2,319 in English.

County schools continue to make small gains in the percentage of sophomores who pass the test and are inching ahead of their statewide peers.

However, English learners and students considered socioeconomically disadvantaged were less likely to pass the test on their first try.

Only 51 percent of English learners passed on their first try, compared with 91 percent of students whose first language is English. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students — those on free or reduced-price lunch programs or whose parents did not attend college — had a 79 percent passing rate.

Julian Crocker, county superintendent of schools, said additional resources need to be focused on those students and that districts need to make them a priority.

Statewide, 84 percent of 10th-graders passed the math portion of the test, and 83 percent passed the English section.

In all, 95 percent of students in the state pass the test before graduation.

“We have made solid improvement, but schools and districts are facing some unprecedented challenges right now,” state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a news release. “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.”

Last year, 88 percent of county sophomores passed the math and English tests on their first try.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District had the highest score, with 95 percent of its tested sophomores passing the math and English tests.

Templeton Unified School District followed with 94 percent of sophomores passing both tests.

High school students, who are given multiple chances to take the test, must pass both sections of the test to earn a diploma.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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