More than three-fourths of public school ninth-graders took the new state high school graduation test last month, education officials said Thursday.
About 350,000 of the 450,000 freshmen took both the English and math portions of the test, which were given for the first time on March 7 and 13, officials said. The relatively high participation rate encouraged state education officials, who worried that confusion about whether the test would count this year would decrease participation.
“I think that’s a positive response to somewhat less than great circumstances,” Phil Spears, director of the Department of Education’s testing division, told the state Board of Education meeting Thursday.
However, students who took the test won’t know until August if they passed or not. Those who didn’t pass will have eight more chances to take the test.
In June, the state board plans to set a passing score. Students will receive those scores in August. Confusion stemmed from Gov. Gray Davis’ attempt to make the March test a practice test because court decisions have said it is better for all students to take the test at one time. But the Legislature rejected the Davis bill two days before the March 7 test. Senate Republicans said they did not want to postpone or weaken the test in any way.
School officials reported no major problems, except for concerns about the disruption of school time for the four-hour test, Spears said. The department is exploring whether future tests can be given on Saturdays.
Many students got tired taking the English test, which features 92 multiple-choice items and two essay questions, some school officials said. Participation in the test varied according to district policy, said John Mockler, the board’s executive director.
Participation was higher in districts, such as Los Angeles Unified, that said all students had to take the test unless parents opted out.
It was lower in districts that left the decision to take the test up to the students, he said.
On the Net: Read about the high school test at