Exit exam results show dramatic improvement

By Lyanne Melendez
ABC Ch. 7

More California students are passing the exit exam than ever before. The results are out and for the first time all major ethnic and racial groups are in the 90 percent range. ABC7 takes a look at why the numbers are up, in spite of recent budget cuts. 

Nearly 95 percent of students from the class of 2011 passed the California exit exam.

Schools like Burton Academic High School in San Francisco have had a strategy in place to make sure more of their students pass the test.

"At Burton what we've been able to do is we've been able to configure the master schedule so that the best and brightest teachers actually work with the most vulnerable kids, the 9th graders," said William Cappenhagen, the principal of Burton Academic High School.

Students must pass both the English and math portions of the exit exam in order to get a diploma. Students can start taking the exam in the 10th grade and they have several more chances to pass.
Those making steady increases were African Americans and Latinos.

Among African Americans, 83.7 percent of the class of 2006 passed the exam; compare that with today, at 90.9 percent. Among Hispanics, 85.5 percent of the class of 2006 passed the test; compare that with today's numbers, 92.3 percent.

Meanwhile, 98 percent of graduating white students passed the exit exam. There is still an achievement gap between Latinos, African Americans and their white counterparts, but it's getting smaller.
The principal at Burton said more and more school districts are assessing students to identify their weaknesses.

"When a teacher, reflecting on a specific area, and the kids didn't do well then it informs the teacher that she may have to go back and re-teach those skills and that content," said Cappenhagen.
Despite huge budget cuts, many schools have seen an improvement.

"I think what we are seeing is teachers and paraprofessionals and administrators at school sites that are just doubling down on the work. I mean, talk about superheroes, they are doing more and more work with less resources," said Richard Carranza from the San Francisco Unified School District.

Schools are also getting savvier. Burton, for example, created a partnership with City College. The college offers extra classes in math and English at the high school which allows students to thrive academically while earning college credit.

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