MHUSD sees mixed results in high school exit exam

MHUSD sees mixed results in high school exit exam
The results are in for the 2011 California High School Exit Exam, and district-wide numbers revealed mixed results.

In 2011, 738 Morgan Hill students took the math portion of the CAHSEE exam and 84 percent passed. Of the 733 that took the English Language Arts test, 85 percent passed. Although those numbers are well over the majority, that is a slight decrease compared to 2010 data. In the math test of 2010, of the 747 that took the test 85 percent passed while 88 percent of the 744 that took ELA passed.

Passing both parts of the CAHSEE became a requirement for all California high school students in order to graduate starting with the class of 2004. Students have one opportunity to take the exam for their first time as sophomores in February, March, or May. If they fail the first time, they can re-take the test twice as juniors and up to five times as seniors. Numbers reported reflect the passing rate of sophomore students, class of 2013, including all months the exam was available.

In Santa Clara County, numbers are fairly similar to the district. More than 19,000 took the test, 88 percent passed math and 86 percent passed ELA. Statewide, 83 percent passed math and 82 percent passed ELA.

In analysis conducted by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, Hispanic students increased their passing math test scores by 3 percentage points from 72 percent to 75 percent in 2010 to 2011. The achievement gap between white and Hispanic students therefore went down 2 percentage points from last year, 22 points to 20. The 22-point gap with ELA remained unchanged from last year.

"Clearly, there is work to be done," said Dr. Charles Weis, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. "It's encouraging to see progress being made, but we want to see it occur at a faster rate, and among all subgroups. "

In the district, the numbers are close to countywide comparisons. Hispanic students passed the math portion of the test by 73 percent and the ELA portion by 75 percent. White students passed 93 percent in math and 91 percent in ELA, a difference of 20 and 16 points respectfully. That's an increase from 2010 when 76 percent Hispanic students passed math and 79 percent passed ELA. White students: 93 percent math, 96 percent ELA making the achievement gap at a 17 point difference each.

Socorro Shiels, assistant superintendent of educational services, said although the district is cautious to interpret too much from any one year's data, high schools work everyday to prepare students to pass the CAHSEE.

"There are support classes offered during the day for students who have failed any section of the CAHSEE which provide them with specific assistance mastering any standards or skills they may have missed or forgotten," she said. "We continually strive to have every student pass the CAHSEE."

She encouraged families with students who may be struggling with the exam to work with their school counselor to devise a plan for passing.