State Superintendent Tom Torlakson commented on "continuing positive momentum" after preliminary results from the California High School Exit Examination, or CAHSEE, were released today.
The test, administered several times throughout a public high school student's career starting in 10th grade, showed 95 percent of the state's Class of 2012 passed the standardized exit exam, according to the California Department of Education.
After taking the test at least two times prior, 12th graders throughout the state were once again tested in reading, writing and math.
Students who pass the test in 10th or 11th grade successfully qualify for graduation and do not need to re-take the exam.
The 2011-12 passing rate was up just under 1 percent from 2010-11, education officials said.
Looking back to the Class of 2006, 90.4 percent of students passed the test their senior year.
Torlakson said at a media teleconference this morning, "Despite the progress we're seeing, there's still much, much more to do."
The superintendent pointed to the 5 percent of students who do not pass the test by 12th grade and a desire to have 100 percent mastering the standardized test before graduation.
Torlakson noted gains in certain demographic groups, including African-Americans who inched up 2.3 percent to 90.1 percent passing compared to 89.6 percent in 2011.
In the Oakland Unified School District, schools have seen "gradual improvement over several years," district spokesman Troy Flint said.
Compared to the 2010-11 school year, a 3 percent increase of 12th graders passing the exam brought 67 percent of students passing in math, while 65 percent passed in English and language arts skills, Flint said.
He called it "modest improvement" that overall lagged the state average.
Within the Oakland school system, exit exam preparation is available at after- and summer school programs for students who do not initially pass during the 10th grade administration, Flint said.
In San Francisco, the school district recorded 94.3 percent passage rate for 12th grade students, with a majority of non-passing students part of special education or English language learner cohorts, district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.
The district also noted 70 percent of 10th grade students, who are part of the Class of 2014, last year passed the exam after their first testing.
"This shows they are on track with learning up to ninth grade, Blythe said. She said first-time test success is an indicator students are on track for graduation in two years.
The exam, which began in 1999, was created to set a standard of what a California high school diploma stands for, Torlakson explained.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News