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Students in the William S. Hart High School District passed the California High School Exit Exam with a higher success rate than many of their peers around the county and the state, a source of pride for district officials.

More than 92 percent of tenth graders in the William S. Hart Union High School District passed the CAHSEE on their first try, according to figures released today by the California Department of Education.  The performance of Hart District students improved over last year’s and in some cases, outpaces the performance of other districts around the county and the state.

The passage rate includes students who are English language learners and students in special education, according to David LeBarron, the Hart District’s director of curriculum and assessment.

Hart District students take the CAHSEE for the first time in March of their tenth grade year, along with all other students needing to pass one or both parts of the test.  The state figures released today include results for all students taking the CAHSEE.

“We are pleased with the results,” LeBarron said. “Our pass rate is quite a bit higher than both the state and the county.”

Overall, 88 percent of Hart District students who took the CAHSEE last March passed the English/language arts portion of the test, compared with 75 percent of Los Angeles County students and 78 percent in the state.  In math, 91 percent of Hart District students taking the CAHSEE in March passed compared with 76 percent in Los Angeles County and 79 percent in the state.

The graduating class of 2012 was the seventh required to pass the CAHSEE, and less than one percent of District seniors failed to receive their diplomas because they did not pass one or both 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 with disabilities.

Hispanic or Latino students ran slightly below the Hart District average, with a 78 percent pass rate in English/language arts and an 83 percent pass rate for mathematics.  English learners achieved a 51 percent pass rate in English/language arts, but Hart District English learners who had been redesignated as proficient in English achieved a 95 percent pass rate in English/language arts, which is higher than Hart District students who are 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 the Hart District course requirements, but do not pass the CAHSEE are allowed to participate in the 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 posted above the 90 percent mark for the past three years. 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 in the calculation of the state’s Academic Performance Index for all high schools.

Additional details are available in the comments made by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson:

The percentage of students from the Class of 2012 meeting the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) graduation requirement increased slightly over last year to 95 percent, marking the sixth straight year of improving performance, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

“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 administered 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 ten have two opportunities in grade eleven and up to five opportunities in grade twelve 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. 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 English-language arts (ELA) and the mathematics portions of the CAHSEE by the end of their senior year. This was an increase of 0.8 of a percentage point over the previous year (See Tables 1 and 2) 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.”

Results for the exam, which is one of several state and local graduation requirements for all students, will be provided at the school, district, county, and state levels and will be posted on the CDE CAHSEE Summary Results Web page. Individual student CAHSEE results are confidential and are not included in the Internet posting.

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 (See Table 3).

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 (See Tables 1 and 3).

Equally significant 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 (See Tables 1 and 3).

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 (See Table 3).

The percentage of students passing the CAHSEE in the tenth grade, which is the first opportunity they have to take the exam, has steadily increased as well. Some 83 percent of the Class of 2014 has already passed the ELA portion, compared to 82.4 percent of the Class of 2013 (See Table 4). For mathematics, the passage rate for first-time test takers in the Class of 2014 was 83.6 percent, compared to 82.7 percent of the Class of 2013 (See Table 5).

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 tenth graders this past school year) for the ELA portion of the CAHSEE. For the mathematics 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 (See Table 6).

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 (See Table 7).

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