Los Angeles schools announced the results of the 2004-2005 school year, state-mandated California High School Exit Exam. Of the students slated to graduate in 2006, 69 percent (more than two thirds) of the class passed both the English language arts and the mathematics portions of the exam. Of the remaining 31 percent of the Class of 2006 students (12th graders):
• Fifteen percent (approximately 5,500 students) must pass both the English language arts and the mathematics portions,
• Ten percent (3,700) must pass the mathematics portion, and
• Six percent (2,000) must pass the English language arts portion.
State law now requires all students to pass both portions of the exit exam in order to graduate from high school and receive a diploma. Students begin taking the exam in the spring of their 10th grade year. If they do not pass one or both portions of the exam, they have the opportunity to retest in both 11th and 12th grades. Los Angeles schools’ Class of 2006 was the first graduating class required to pass both portions of the exam in order to graduate.
The excellent results of the 2004-5 testing is the direct result of focused instruction and successful intervention, and demonstrates that every student is capable of passing the exam. These intense efforts on the part of Los Angeles schools educators were specifically designed to assist students with coursework directly connected to the exit exams.
In the 2004-5 school year, Los Angeles schools developed intervention strategies for students having problems passing the exam. The strategies introduced small learning communities and supported the core curriculum. Personalized teaching and learning approaches were developed for each student, such as an outreach program and intervention on an individual basis. The Los Angeles schools further made attendance at exit exam preparation classes mandatory for students who had yet to pass one or both test portions. These classes met outside of the normal school day and were provided free of charge to the students through the district’s Beyond the Bell, a branch of Los Angeles schools that oversees all student extended day programs.
These combined efforts have had a direct and significant impact upon the graduation rate at Los Angeles schools, as proven not only by the Class of 2006 test results but those for the Class of 2007, as well. When the Class of 2006 was in 10th grade, the students had a first-time pass rate of 60 percent in English language arts and 58 percent in mathematics. The Class of 2007, when in 10th grade, surpassed these first-time pass results by 66 percent in English language arts and 59 percent in mathematics — a significant increase in scholastic achievement.
These results clearly demonstrate that the dropout rate can be turned around, which is just one of the many student achievement goals of Los Angeles schools. The district continues to aggressively focus upon the development of rigorous curriculum for its middle and senior high schools. Los Angeles schools recognize and the exit exam results underscore the importance of improved high school instruction, which can directly impact higher graduation rates and allow students to matriculate and move on to viable options in their adult lives.