City’s students making the grade on exit exams 

High school students in San Francisco are making significant gains when it comes to passing the exit exam, which is required before receiving a diploma.

More San Francisco Unified School District sophomores are taking and passing the exam, which was implemented in 2006, though the district trailed the statewide average by a small amount.

The results of the 2010 California High School Exit Exam were released Tuesday. Students are required to take the math and English tests as sophomores and are given five chances to pass before graduation.

In San Francisco, 185 students in the graduating class of 2010 had not passed the exit exam in time for the graduation ceremony, compared to 291 students in the class of 2009 who did not pass in time.

School officials in The City recognize the importance of passing the test the first time and therefore emphasize this goal to sophomores.
Students who take and pass the test as sophomores are more likely to graduate, according to SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia. 

“There’s a huge correlation,” Garcia said. “Whether kids pass this, it determines who moves on to college.”

Garcia said the district’s adoption of the A-G requirements, coursework necessary for admission into a the California State University system, will also better prepare students for the exit exam and their future. The new requirements went into place for all incoming freshmen this year.

According to data released by the California Department of Education, 181 more sophomores passed their English-language arts test last spring in San Francisco than the year before, and 128 more students passed their math tests compared to the previous year.

In 2009, 3,339 sophomores passed the English test the first time, while 3,520 students passed in 2010. For math, 3,391 students passed in 2009, compared with 3,519 sophomores passing in 2010.

Overall, the district increased 2 percentage points in math — a total of 80 percent of students passing — and 3 percentage points in English — a total of 80 percent of students passing.

Individual schools made gains as well. Out of 22 high schools in San Francisco, 16 made significant gains in getting students to pass both exams the first time. Only four high schools lost percentage points and two did not change.

Despite the gains by students in The City, the district is trailing the statewide average passage rates.

Statewide, more students passed the test their first time. The amount of students passing the test for the first time increased by 3 percentage points from 2009. 

In the state, an average of 81 percent of students taking the exit exam passed in both math and language skills, a
1-percentage-point difference from the district numbers.

Laser focus pays off for Mission High

Three years after taking over the reins at Mission High School, Eric Guthertz and his staff of 70 teachers increased student performance on the California High School Exit Exam by as much as 18 percentage points.

Guthertz credits staff, students and parents for the increase and sense of community embraced by the school. He said since becoming principal, he has instituted student teams that offer mentoring to students and principal chats that allow parents to asks questions about all that is happening at the school. In addition, the teachers at the school work together to form the curriculum.

“Kids see this as a make-or-break test,” he said. “So we focus on preparing students to go to college and give them the tools they need to make a lot of choices so they can walk out the door and say, ‘I’m ready.’”

Mission High School is one of 18 schools to see gains on the number of students passing the exit exam on the first try as sophomores. Mission students though, saw an increase of 13 percentage points in English and 18 percentage points in math scores compared with the sophomores who took the test in 2009.

Guthertz said the increased test scores and involvement has also improved the image of the school.

“It’s all part of the bigger picture,” he said. “Students want to be here.”

Superintendent praises progress in closing test achievement gap

Minority and economically disadvantaged students are making strides in passing the California High School Exit Exam since the test was first given, closing the gap between them and their white and Asian peers, according to state education officials.
State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said these gains in closing the achievement gap are positive, but he also would like to see a more accelerated push to close it further.

“We know all students can learn,” O’Connell said. “These scores show continued progress in our schools and it shows strong efforts and resilience, which we must accelerate.”

According to data released by the state superintendent, 91.6 percent of all Hispanic students in the class of 2010 who took the test passed. Hispanic students make up 47 percent of all of California’s student population. In 2006, the first year the test was administered, 58.5 percent of Hispanic students were passing. Similar increases were seen for black students.

An estimated 95 percent of students statewide passed the exit exam in 2010, an increase of 5 percentage points since 2006.

Passing the exam on the first try

Percentage of sophomores who passed the exit exam in the 2009-10 school year, compared to sophomores who took the test in the 2008-09 school year and passed:

Math    

SFUSD

2009    78    

2010   80

Change   2

Statewide    

2009    80    

2010    81    

Change    1
    

English-language arts    

SFUSD    

2009   77    

2010   80    

Change   3

Statewide    

2009   79    

2010   81    

Change   2

    
Source: California Department of Education

Leaving without a diploma

Hundreds of students in San Francisco did not receive diplomas in June because they didn’t pass the exit exam.

CLASS OF 2010:

3,765
seniors enrolled

3,580
students passed the exit exam

185
students did not pass the exam

CLASS OF 2011:

3,934
seniors enrolled

683
students have not passed

265
students have not taken the test

Source: San Francisco Unified School District

Sophomores who have passed the test

The California High School Exit Exam scores for the SFUSD:    
    
Math    

School    2010    2009    Percentage-
School    2010    2009    point change
Abraham Lincoln High School    86    84    2
Academy of Arts and Sciences    70    N/A    N/A
Balboa High School    88    78    10
Phillip and Sala Burton High School    77    70    7
Downtown High School    23    20    3
Five Keys Charter High School    23    35    -12
Galileo High School    85    90    -5
Gateway Charter High School    90    82    8
George Washington High School    88    91    -3
Independence Alternative High School    53    41    12
International Studies High School    70    53    17
Leadership Charter High School    69    72    -3
Life Learning Charter High School    41    60    -19
Lowell High School    99    100    -1
Thurgood Marshall High School    63    62    1
Mission High School    73    55    18
Newcomer High School (now closed)    57    60    -3
John O’Connell High School    53    46    7
Raoul Wallenberg High School    82    82    0
School of the Arts High School    92    89    3
Small School for Equity High School    54    41    13
Ida B. Wells Alternative High School    65    28    37
    
English-language arts    

School    2010    2009    Percentage-
School    2010    2009    point change
Abraham Lincoln High School    82    78    4
Balboa High School    84    77    7
Phillip and Sala Burton High School    77    59    18
Downtown High School    49    44    5
Five Keys Charter High School    55    48    7
Galileo High School    82    82    0
Gateway Charter High School    91    85    6
George Washington High School    85    89    -4
Independence High School    72    58    14
International Studies High School    79    54    25
Leadership Charter High School    76    75    1
Life Learning Charter High School    60    77    -17
Lowell High School    99    99    0
Thurgood Marshall High School    60    48    12
Mission High School    60    47    13
Newcomer High School (now closed)    4    2    2
John O’Connell High School    56    53    3
Raoul Wallenberg High School    87    86    1
School of the Arts High School    97    88    9
Small School for Equity High School    70    51    19
Ida B. Wells Alternative High School    60    50    10

Source: California Department of Education

Scores year over year        

Exit exam passage, by percentage, comparing sophomore SFUSD students to peers statewide:

Math    

Year    SFUSD    Statewide
2010    80    81
2009    78    80
2008    80    78
2007    81    76
2006    76    76
2005    80    74
        
English-language arts    

Year    SFUSD    Statewide
2010    80    81
2009    77    79
2008    77    79
2007    75    77
2006    74    77
2005    76    76

Source: California Department of Education

Sample Questions:

Math

Robert’s toy car travels at 40 centimeters per second (cm/sec) at high speed and 15 cm/sec at low speed. If the car travels for 15 seconds at high speed and then 30 seconds at low speed, what distance would the car have traveled?
a) 1050 cm          b) 1200 cm
c) 1425 cm          d) 2475 cm

Bonni has two similar rectangular boxes. The dimensions of box 1 are twice those of box 2. How many times greater is the volume of box 1 than the volume of box 2?
a) 3     b) 6     c) 8     d) 9

Marcus plans to buy a CD that has a regular price of $13.99. It is on sale for 10% off, but Marcus will have to pay 7% sales tax. Which is the MOST reasonable estimate of the total cost of the CD including tax?
a) $12.50          b) $13.50
c) $14.50          d) $15.50

“Len runs a mile in 8 minutes. At this rate, how long will it take him to run a marathon?” Which of the following problems can be solved using the same arithmetic operations that are used to solve the problem above?
a) Len runs 26 miles in 220 minutes. How long does it take him to run each mile?
b) A librarian has 356 books to place on 18 shelves. Each shelf will contain the same number of books. How many books can the librarian place on each shelf?
c) A cracker box weighs 200 grams. What is the weight of 100 boxes?
d) Each basket of strawberries weighs 60 grams. How many baskets can be filled from 500 grams?

Language arts

Joe was really surprised that Sandy had taken the dog with her.
a) taken                b) had took
c) had of took      d) Leave as is.

What would be the BEST source of information on Australian earthworms?
a) a Website for a company selling earthworms
b) a magazine article entitled “Earthworms: the Farmer’s Friend”
c) a book entitled “Earthworms From Around the World”
d) an Internet site on soil management using earthworms

“To accomplish this goal, he believed that each kid must be treated as an individual with different abilities.”
Which of the following would be the best replacement for the underlined word?
a) child          b) little one
c) tyke           d) tiny person

Source: California Department of Education


akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Pin It
Favorite

More by Andrea Koskey

Latest in Other News

Sunday, Dec 28, 2014

Videos

Related to Other News

© 2014 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation