Fewer California 12th graders pass exit exam

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Fewer California high school students in the class of 2008 passed the exit exam than seniors who graduated in 2007 or 2006, according to new data from the California Department of Education.

Since 2006, high school students have been required to pass the California High School Exit Exam to graduate.

Among seniors in the class of 2008, 90.2 percent had passed the exam – which is first administered when students are in 10th grade – before graduation ceremonies last spring, according to the CDE.

That’s down from 93.3 percent of seniors in the class of 2007 who had passed the exit exam by May 2007, and 91.2 percent of seniors in the class of 2006 who had aced the test by the end of their senior year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell instituted the exit-exam requirement in order to assess whether all graduating seniors were meeting the same academic requirements by the end of high school.

“The [exit exam] is an important tool to ensure that all students who get a diploma in California have at least a minimum level of skills in English-language arts and math that are critical to success,” O’Connell said in a statement Tuesday.

In addition, 2008 was the first year special-education students were required to pass the exam in order to receive their diplomas. Among special-education seniors, 53.8 percent met the requirement by May 2008, according to the CDE. Their projected graduation rate is 54.4 percent, down from 57.2 percent of special-education seniors in the class of 2007.

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