California High School Exit Exam: The number of LAUSD English-learners who passed the English portion of the exam on their first try dropped to 27%
Fewer English-language learners in Los Angeles schools are passing the California High School Exit Exam on the first try, even though the overall student passing rate remains relatively steady, according to results released Thursday.
The number of L.A. Unified School District English-learners who passed the English portion of the exam on their first try dropped to just 27 percent - down from 49 percent two years ago and 30 percent last year.
Just 32 percent passed the math portion of the test, down from 47percent in 2005 and 34 percent last year.
The drops reflect a statewide decline among English-learners, with just 36 percent of California's 10th-grade English-learners passing the English portion of the test - down from 42 percent in 2005.
About 47 percent statewide passed the math portion, down from 49 percent two years ago.
While a higher percentage of 10th-graders passed the CAHSEE, LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer III said he's disappointed at the rate of progress.
About 290,000 - or 41 percent - of the LAUSD's 708,000 students are categorized as English-learners.
Over the past two years, the district has set aside one hour of every six-hour classroom day to focus exclusively on building students' English skills.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said 10th-grade English-learners are the only group to experience such a drop, showing an urgent need to better prepare students.
O'Connell said he wants more analysis of the data, but suspects that the drop was because of more reclassification of students out of the English-learner program.
"This was one group that went in the wrong direction and it's something we need to address," he said. "We must be diligent and steadfast in our commitment to close the achievement gap not only for our students' future success, but also for California's future success."
The passing rate among all 10th-graders in the LAUSD remained flat compared with the past two years, with 66 percent passing the English portion and 61 percent passing math.
O'Connell said while he's encouraged by slight increases in the passing rate, the exam tests minimum competence.
"Their success at passing the test confirms they have acquired the fundamental skills and knowledge that every California high school graduate must have in order to compete in today's work force," O'Connell said.
"However, I continue to be troubled by the achievement gap, as indicated by our first-time test-takers, that continue to exist between students who are African-American or Hispanic/Latino and their peers who are white or Asian."
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