The majority of San Luis Obispo County students passed the state’s high school exit exam on their first try, according to data released by California education officials Tuesday.
The exam, which is first given to students in their sophomore year of high school, measures math and English proficiency.
County students have consistently made small gains in passing the test as sophomores and continue to inch ahead of their statewide peers.
Results for the 2009-10 school year show that 89 percent of county sophomore students tested passed the math portion of the test and 86 percent passed the English portion.
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In all, 2,827 county sophomores were tested in math and 2,450 students were tested in English.
A year ago only 86 percent of the county’s 10th graders passed the math portion on their first try and 85 percent passed the English.
County students continue to have a slight edge on their peers statewide — 81 percent of statewide sophomores passed both the English and math portions of the test.
Brad Schultz, assistant superintendent of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, said the high number of sophomores passing the test is a good sign.
“The students remaining are those who are struggling the most,” said Schultz. “But they have quite a few opportunities in the 11th and 12th grades to make it through.”
Shultz said additional state funding has been geared toward the county’s two main subgroups who might struggle with the test: English learners and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.
English learners, who accounted for 260 of the sophomore students tested, demonstrated a 57 percent passing rate in math and 45 percent in English.
Students considered socioeconomically disadvantaged — those on free or reduced-price lunch programs or whose parents did not attend college — showed a 74 percent passing rate for English and a 79 percent passing rate for math.
Those rates are up from the prior year, when only 65 percent of sophomores designated as disadvantaged passed the English test and 72 percent the math.
Students who do not pass either portion of the exam can retake it multiple times. If they do not pass both portions, they cannot graduate.
It was unclear Tuesday how many county high school seniors did not graduate because they did not pass the test.
San Luis Coastal Unified School District, which tested 1,169 students, has the highest-ranking score, with 92 percent of the tested sophomores passing the English test and 95 percent passing the math test.
Templeton Unified School District, which tested 450 sophomores, followed closely, with 94 percent of the tested sophomores passing the English test and 92 percent passing the math test.
Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, which tested 1,102 sophomores, had the lowest passing rates at 81 percent for English and 83 percent for math.