The California Department of Education released results from the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) Wednesday afternoon that showed increasing passing rates and marked improvements among various ethnic groups.
Approximately 95 percent of students from the class of 2011 met the CAHSEE requirement, an increase of 0.2 percent from last year, up by 4.2 percent since the test became a requirement to graduate high school in 2006. The latest results also showed improvement among the state's black and Hispanic students, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said on Wednesday.
"It is heartening to see that our students continue to learn and achieve despite the painful toll that budget cuts are taking on our schools," Torlakson said. "The results of this year's exit examination -- and the progress schools are making to close the achievement gap --are yet another sign of the remarkable commitment that teachers, school employees and administrators have to the students of California."
Overall, approximately 94.6 percent or 422, 558 high school seniors passed students both the sophomore-level English-language arts (ELA) and eighth grade mathematics portions of the CAHSEE. The overall passing rate did not include students with disabilities, who showed a passing rate of 54.6 percent.
Ninety-nine percent of tenth grade students in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District passed the ELA exam, an increase of 1 percent from last year, and also improved math scores by 2 percentage points for a 99 percent passing rate. The state does not provide district-specific information on twelfth grade students.
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. Statewide, 82.4 percent of current juniors have already passed the ELA portion, compared to 80.6 percent of current seniors. In mathematics, the passage rate for first-time junior test takers was 82.7 percent, compared to 80.7 percent of the class of 2012.
Passing rates among African-Americans students statewide increased by 1.3 percent compared to last year while Hispanic students improved 0.9 percent. Both Asian and white students increased passing rates by 0.3 percent.
The gap between sophomore Hispanic and white students throughout California has narrowed by 11.6 percentage points over the past five years for the exam's ELA portion and by 12 percentage points in the mathematics section. Similarly, the gap between black and white students has narrowed by 6.5 percent in ELA and 9.9 percent in mathematics.
Comparing only Hispanic students in the class of 2011 to the class of 2010, there is a 0.9 percentage point increase in passage rate; while comparing the Hispanic population in the class of 2011 to the class of 2006, there is an increase of 6.8 percentage points in the passing rate.
African American students in the class of 2011 display the largest increase in passing rates of 1.3 and 7.2 percentage points, respectively when compared to African American students in the Classes of 2010 and 2006 at the same point in time of their senior year (See Table 3).
Current law specifies that all public high school students must take the CAHSEE for the first time during sophomore year. Students who do not pass the CAHSEE have two opportunities during their junior year and at least three and up to five opportunities in twelfth grade to pass the examination.
The results for 2010–11 school year are provided at the school, district, county, and state levels and cover test administrations given in July, October, November and December 2010 and February, March and May 2011.