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Hart district aces exit exam

Nearly all students passed

Posted: September 9, 2008 8:55 p.m.
Updated: November 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.

For the third consecutive year, nearly 90 percent of Hart district 10th-graders passed the California High School Exit Exam on their first try, putting the district above both the county and the state averages, according to figures released Tuesday by the California Department of Education.

Every 10th-grader takes the exam for the first time in March, with a make-up test in May for those who were absent in March. The exam is broken into two portions, one for English and language arts and one for math.

The William S. Hart Union High School District saw 89 percent of its students pass the English portion of the exam, compared with 76 percent in the county and 79 percent in the state.

Eighty-nine percent of Hart district 10th-graders passed the math portion, compared to 74 percent in the county and 78 percent in the state.

"We're extremely pleased with the high pass rates for our first-time test-takers," said Vicki Engbrecht, the district's assistant superintendent of educational services. "The scores are almost identical to last year's, with math showing a 1 percent increase and English and language arts scores staying the same."
Students start taking the exam in the 10th grade and have a total of six chances to pass.

Typically, less than 1 percent of Hart district seniors fail to receive a diploma because they did not pass the state-mandated test.

The district has created a number of intervention programs to help students who do not pass the test the first time.

"We offer on-going intervention for 11th- and 12th-graders outside the school day to help them, plus in the summer we offer targeted (high school exit exam) remedial classes in both math and English and language arts," Engbrecht said.

Students receiving special education services are no longer entitled to an exemption from the exit exam requirement and are now expected to pass the test to receive a diploma.

Among Hart district 10th-graders, 52 percent of special education students passed the math portion of the exam, and 55 percent passed the English and language arts portion.

One area in which the Hart district saw big improvements in scores was in the socio-economically disadvantaged student sub-group, with 10th-graders who passed the math portion increasing from 59 percent to 71 percent, and those passing the English and language arts portion going from 62 percent to 67 percent.

While improvement is still needed, that increase closes the gap between those scores and the scores of 10th-graders who are not socio-economically disadvantaged, 92 percent of whom passed both portions.

"The significant improvement, especially in the socio-economically disadvantaged sup-group, is credited to staff who have been working hard to close the achievement gap," Engbrecht said.


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