High school students’ best test

 

While modest gains are being made in Standardized Achievement
Test (SAT-9) reading results for grades 2-10 and the state’s
Academic Performance Index (API) indicates most schools in San
Benito County are meeting their growth targets, a key statistic has
been overlooked: the data from the California High School Exit Exam
(CAHSEE).
While modest gains are being made in Standardized Achievement Test (SAT-9) reading results for grades 2-10 and the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) indicates most schools in San Benito County are meeting their growth targets, a key statistic has been overlooked: the data from the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

This exam is the ultimate benchmark for measuring whether school districts are meeting the needs of their students.

In terms of testing statistics and academic performance, the CAHSEE test results have the most significance in the overall picture because the test measures the performance of all students and does not differentiate for socio-economic background.

The high school exit exam is a practical assessment of basic English and math skills, with emphasis on the word “basic.”

Our students, unfortunately, are not doing well at the basics. The ability of students at San Benito and Anzar high schools to grasp basic math and language skills is abysmally low – much lower than that of students statewide.

In spring 2002, only 25 percent of county students taking the math portion of the CAHSEE passed. By comparison, statewide 32 percent passed. Only 44 percent of SBHS students and only 39 percent of Anzar students taking the English portion of the CAHSEE passed. By comparison, 54 percent passed statewide.

The CAHSEE is the ultimate measurement of the effectiveness of the local school systems in preparing students for life. The real-life parallels are unavoidable.

Communities whose graduating seniors score well on the CAHSEE tests have a lower dropout rate, less gang activity, more young people entering the workforce and more people contributing positively to the community.

While rising SAT-9 test scores have been garnering the most attention from the media, the state and the community, the CAHSEE test looms. This year’s juniors at Anzar, SBHS and other county high schools will have to pass the test in 2004 to receive a high school diploma.

The objective of raising CAHSEE test performance is to ensure the entire student population has the basic skills needed to succeed. Where SBC high school students are right now is scary.

When the county can report significant gains in CAHSEE test scores, then we will know, at last, that the quality of a public school education in San Benito County is truly on the upswing.

What we know now is that there’s a lot of work to be done.

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