## High school exit exam results

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 at 12:17 pm in high schools, students, test scores.

You can look up your school’s and district’s results, by grade-level, here. One thing to look at is the “combined” passage rates for the 10th grade — the first time kids take the exam.

Some statewide trends, from the CDE news release:

By the end of their senior year approximately 90.6 percent, or 432,900 students, in the Class of 2009 successfully passed both the English-language arts and mathematics portions of the CAHSEE. The passage rate for the graduating class of 2009 is slightly higher than the 90.4 percent passage rate for the Class of 2008 at the same point in time. In addition, 56.6 percent of students receiving special education services in the Class of 2009 have successfully met the graduation requirement, an increase of 2 percentage points over the Class of 2008 at the same point in time (See Tables 1 and 2).

The latest data indicate that an increasing percentage of students are passing the exam on their first opportunity in the tenth grade: 79.2 percent of the Class of 2011 has already passed the English-language arts portion, compared to 77.1 percent of tenth graders in the Class of 2008. In mathematics, the passage rate for first-time test taker has increased to 79.8 percent, an increase of 4.3 percent over the Class of 2008 (See Tables 4 and 5).

I don’t know about that “increasing percentage” line. The first-time passage rates, statewide, were flat from last year to this year.

What jumps out at you, after looking at the data?

• Nextset

This test is normed on a US Average for 8th graders. You would expect your 100 IQ kid to manage it around 7th grade, certainly by 9th.

The states and cities have different IQ averages just as they have different credit score averages (some think the two are connected).

The further to the left of the Bell Curve a student is, the more difficulty he or she is going to have passing. Some people take more time to think, to calculate, to draw inferences and so forth. The left side of the Curve gets frustrated faster.

Something that is not clear is: do the test takers get all day to complete the test or is the test given under a time limit? Time pressure testing strongly selects for IQ – processing speed.

Oakland Unified’s students on the average are not as gifted as Piedmont’s, or even Berkeley/Sacramento. So you can’t be too surprised here. They’re not going to pass at the same speed and rate as other cities. And this is why the mandatory Algebra at 8th grade is so laughable, and so cruel. No amount of flogging the horse is going to get more than there is to give.

The students need to work dilligently but OUSD as presently constituted is not going to match the higher functioning areas where they have the advantage. And you can’t blame the teachers for it either.

• MathTeacher

Nextset, to my knowledge, the CaHSEE is not normed at all. It attempts to assess knowledge of standards at a 6th grade – Algebra I level in math and through 10th grade in English. These standards are not normed to other states’ standards.

I know most about the math CaHSEE. If you look at the released test questions available from CDE, they are clearly a collection of math trivia – very little is of use to the average successful adult.
Doing well on this test has, in my opinion, little to do with knowledge or math skills and lots to do with extraneous factors such as comfort with the formal language of the questions.

The test is officially supposed to be untimed. In reality, schools set a schedule and the vast majority of students do not ask for extra time even if they need it. If a school allows a total of about four or five hours,that is seems to be enough for most students to finish (second language learners and special ed students will likely need more time, in my experience).
More significant than time pressure is sheer exhaustion. Tackling 92 math questions the day after a similarly-long English test (including writing an essay on a painfully trivial or obscure subject) is just too exhausting. The exhaustion factor is worsened if a student has felt increasing frustration because of obscurely-worded questions or having to dredge up the meaning of abstractions such as absolute value and systems of equations.

• Eli

I took the Exit Exam and scored in the 400′s. I can tell you that it has some geometry and alot of algebra in it. It is fairly simple for me who has a problem with math. Its your nervousness which causes you to mess up. This test is not untimmed, we get it timed but for those that didn’t finish the others go on and that one is left completing it.