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Local students improve on state exams, still fall short of state average

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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 10:35 am | Updated: 7:14 am, Tue Oct 23, 2012.

Most local students in the Class of 2014 who took the California High School Exit Exam have seen a steady increase in their passage rates, but are still falling short of the state average.

The test was administered earlier this calendar year to 10th-graders in the subjects of math and English-language arts. Questions are based on the California state standards, which define what students should be learning each year.

Results for students who took the test in the 2011-12 school year were released Wednesday.

The exit exam 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 it in their sophomore year have two opportunities in grades 11 and up to five opportunities in grade 12 to try again.

Lodi and North Stockton results

In Lodi Unified School District — which includes all of its high schools in Lodi and North Stockton — the passage rate for sophomores on the math portion inched up to 81 percent, compared to 80 percent last year.

“Of course, we’d like to see it increase more than that,” Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said. “We’ll take one percent, but I’d like to see more.”

District students also improved in the English-language arts section; 81 percent aced it, while 79 percent did in 2010.

The district is addressing the English-language arts issue through intervention reading programs at the middle school level so that struggling students can be prepared when they take the test the first time, according to Nichols-Washer.

Here’s how the Lodi school rates for sophomores broke down:

  • Lodi High School students dropped slightly with a passage rate of 85 percent for both math and 83 percent for English-language arts. The past two years, 86 percent of students passed both.
  • Tokay High School students also slipped backward. This year, 80 percent passed the math portion while 78 percent did well in English-language arts, down from 81 and 79 percent on the respective tests in 2011.

Still, it was an improvement from 2010 when 76 percent passed the math portion and 75 percent the English-language arts.

  • Middle College High School, attended by a number of Lodi students, passed with a 100 percent for both subjects.

In addition to providing a school-by-school look, the results released Wednesday compared both gender and ethnicity sub-categories.

Overall, the district’s female sophomores scored higher on both portions of the test than their male counterparts.

White students in 10th grade, who had a 90-percent passage rate for English-language arts in 2011, saw a drop to 86 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, increased their passage rate to 76 percent from 73 percent.

Nichols-Washer was surprised by the drop in white student scores.

“That’s something the sites are going to have to look at,” she said.

But when it comes to the improvement by Hispanic students, she’s heartened that the English-language learning programs already in place may be working.

This year, 87 percent of Asian sophomores passed the math portion, compared to 66 percent of black students districtwide.

Galt results

Students in Galt Joint Union High School District’s Class of 2014 took a slight dip compared to last year’s passage rate, but remained level with their counterparts statewide.

In math, 83 percent of district sophomores passed the math portion, compared to 87 percent last year, while the passage rate was 83 percent in English-language arts. Last year’s rate was 84 percent.

At Galt High, specifically, 80 percent passed the math portion compared to 86 percent last year. In English-language arts, there was an 83 percent passage rate, slightly higher than last year’s 81 percent.

Principal Maria Orr said staff was still digesting the information Wednesday and looking at ways to raise math scores.

“There’s always room for improvement,” she said. For the second year in a row, Liberty Ranch students bested the state rate in math, although the school’s passage rate dropped from last year’s scores. The Class of 2014 passed with an 86 percentage rate, compared to last year’s 88 percent. In English-language arts, the rate was 83 percent, down from last year’s 87 percent rate.

On average, the scores are still higher than the county’s passage rate of 83 percent for both subjects.

Not enough Estrellita Continuation High School students take the exam for the state to report figures.

Overall, the district’s female sophomores did better on the tests, but saw a drop from last year’s success rates. On the math portion, 85 percent passed compared to 91 percent last year, while English language-arts passage rates fell from 92 percent to 89 percent.

Males, on the other hand, saw an improvement on the English-language arts portion, from 75 percent in 2011 to 76 percent this reporting period; 80 percent passed the math portion, compared to 83 percent last year.

Hispanic students scored better on the math portion (78 percent passed) than English-language arts (79 percent), compared to 86 percent of white students for math and 87 percent for English language-arts.

There are not enough scores of black, Asian or American Indian students in the Galt Joint Union High School District for the state to release scores for these sub-categories, as that may identify specific students.

Sacramento, San Joaquin counties

At the San Joaquin County level, 80 percent of first-time test takers passed both the math and English-language art portions. Both scores were an improvement over the Class of 2013’s 79 percent for math and 78 percent for English-language arts.

In Sacramento County, 83 percent of 10th graders passed both test portions.

The percentage of students statewide passing the exam in the 10th grade has steadily increased as well.

Some 83 percent of the Class of 2014 has already passed the English-language portion, compared to 82 percent of the Class of 2013. For mathematics, the passage rate for first-time test takers in the Class of 2014 was 84 percent, compared to 83 percent of the Class of 2013.

Results for the exam, which is one of several graduation requirements for all students, at the school, district, county and state levels can be found at cahsee.cde.ca.gov.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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