Page One

California High School Seniors Must Pass Exit Test By YOLANDA HUANG

Tuesday January 10, 2006

Last week California Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said all high school seniors must pass the California exit exam in order to receive their diplomas in June. 

Ninety-seven out of 700 Berkeley High School seniors have not passed the English portion of the exit exam, according to a district report given to the Berkeley school board last month. Nearly half of those students are African-American and almost a third of them are Hispanic.  

Of the 90 seniors who have yet to pass the math portion of the exam 52 of them are African-American and 18 are Hispanic, according to the district. 

Students must pass both sections to graduate. 

The exam is taken by students during their sophomore, junior and senior years. Of all Berkeley High School students who took the exit exam last academic year, about 96 percent of all white students passed the high school exit exam, while about half of all African-American and Hispanic students passed. 

In contrast, at Albany High School a similarly high percentage, 94 percent, of white students passed the exit exam, but the pass rate for African-Americans and Hispanic students at Albany High was also relatively high. At Albany High, almost two-thirds of African-American and Hispanic students passed the exit exam. 

Even with special education students, the contrast between Berkeley and Albany was notable. For students in special education at Albany High School, 64 percent passed the exit exam, while in Berkeley, only 23 percent of special education students passed the math and 17 percent passed the English portions of the test. 

The state is making available an extra $600 per student for intensive instruction and services to help students pass the high school exit exam. In addition, the state is working to make summer school and independent study available to students who are unable to graduate because of the exit exam.