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98% OF CLASS OF '06 PASSED EXIT EXAM A.V. DISTRICT SCORES ON REQUIRED ENGLISH TEST ARE HIGHER THAN PRIOR YEAR.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- Scores of Antelope Valley Union High School District students taking the high school English exit exam improved over the year before, results released Tuesday show.

Seventy-three percent of sophomores passed the English section in 2006, compared with 72 percent in 2005.

In the exit exam's math section, 67 percent of sophomores passed, the same as in 2005.

``Several schools improved overall in every category for sophomores,'' said Brent Woodard, the high school district's director of curriculum and instruction.

At Highland High School, 76 percent of sophomores passed the math portion, compared with 75 percent the prior year. Seventy-nine percent passed English, compared with 77 percent in 2005.

At Knight High School, 69 percent of sophomores passed math, and 76 percent passed English. In 2005, the pass rates were 67 percent and 75 percent respectively.

At Palmdale High, 64 percent of sophomores passed math, compared with 63 percent the prior year. Seventy-one percent passed English, compared with 66 percent in 2005.

The Class of 2006 was the first to be required to pass the controversial exit exam to earn a diploma. Out of nearly 3,500 seniors in Antelope Valley Union High School District schools, only 76 failed to pass, for a pass rate of about 98 percent, higher than the statewide pass rate of 90.4 percent.

Statewide, nearly 42,000 students had not passed the test at the end of the school year just past.

California schools superintendent Jack O'Connell said results show steady improvement in the number of students in the classes of 2007 and 2008 who have met the exit exam requirement.

Since the Class of 2007 initially took the exit exam as 10th graders in 2004-05, an estimated 89 percent have passed the English portion, while an estimated 88 percent have passed the math portion.

Class of 2007 figures for Antelope Valley were not available.

``I have always known that our students could rise to the challenge of higher expectations,'' O'Connell said. ``I am proud of the ongoing rate of student success on the exit exam. The vast majority of the Class of 2007 and the Class of 2008 have already passed the exit exam and, at this pace, we are on track toward a passing rate greater than that of the Class of 2006.''

The overall pass rate for the local high school district, which would include scores of juniors and seniors who have not yet passed the test, went down, mirroring state and county figures.

High school students have six chances to pass the exam. They can it take once in their sophomore year, twice in their junior year and three times in their senior year.

Districtwide, 48 percent of students passed math, and 56 passed English, compared with 56 percent and 61 percent respectively in 2005.

Woodard said the fact that more students are taking the exam is part of the reason for the decline.

``That is a contributing factor as to why it declined,'' Woodard said.

In Los Angeles County, the number of students passing math went from 57 percent to 54 percent, and in English from 61 percent to 58 percent.

Statewide, the math pass rate went from 63 percent to 59 percent, and the English rate went from 65 percent to 61 percent.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge May 12 halted the exit exam as a graduation requirement, but the state appealed that decision to the California Supreme Court, which 12 days later reinstated the exam.

The state's high court ordered a state appeals court to hold a hearing on the issue. As a result of that hearing, an appeals court Aug. 11 upheld the requirement that all students take the exam.

Authorized by state lawmakers in 1999, the exit exam was originally to take effect in 2004. It was delayed until 2006 because of questions over whether students were adequately prepared and knew about the test.

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com

(661) 267-5744

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 23, 2006
Words:667
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