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San Diego County 10th Graders Outpace State On High School Exit Exams

Audio

Aired 8/24/11

San Diego County students passed the math and English high school exit exams on their first try at a higher rate than California students as a whole.

— About 87 percent of San Diego County 10th graders passed the math portion of the state's high school exit exam on their first try, and 85 percent passed the English portion.

Across California, 83 percent of 10th graders passed the math portion and 82 percent passed the English portion.

Under current California law, students take the exit exams for the first time in 10th grade. Those who do not pass can retake the test in 11th and 12th grade.

In San Diego County, special education students, students whose first language is not English, and economically disadvantaged students also outpaced their counterparts statewide.

At San Diego Unified schools, about 85 percent of 10th graders passed the math portion of the exit exam, while 82 percent passed the English portion. Five years ago the passing rate on both sections was 78 percent for city schools' 10th graders.

When Nellie Meyer, deputy superintendent of academics for San Diego Unified, looked at the passing rates for city 10th graders on the state high school exit exams she saw something exciting in the results for different student groups.

“There was a closing of the gap by 4 percent with our African American students in literacy," she said, "a closing of the gap with 6 percent with our Hispanic students with literacy. In mathematics, with both subgroups we saw a closing of the gap by 8 percent.”

Those scores can only account for students still in school, though.

Data released earlier this month showed that in class set to graduate in 2010, about 16.5 percent of the African-American students and 16.2 percent of Hispanic students dropped out, compared to 9.7 percent of white students and 6.6 percent of Asian students.

The most recent dropout and graduation data for San Diego Unified schools is available here.

Nearly 95 percent of the class of 2011 passed the math and English exit exams statewide by their senior year, according to the California Department of Education. The first class required to take the exams graduated in 2006. About 90 percent of the state’s 12th graders had passed the exams that year.

Students must pass the tests to earn a high school diploma.

While the overall passing rate increased by about 5 percent from 2006 to 2011, the passing rate for African-American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students rose by roughly 7 percent over that same period, to 90.9, 92.3 and 92.1 percent respectively.

“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,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom 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.”

See how San Diego 10th graders did by school district and charter school here.

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