New high school exit exam shows narrowing of achievement gap

Results released Wednesday from the state's high school exit exam show that the achievement gap between white students, Latinos and African American students continues to narrow.

According to 2010-11 exam results, high school seniors in each racial subgroup made gains this year, while the gap between the number of African Americans and whites passing the test narrowed by 1 percentage point from last year.

Also, the gap between Latino and white high school seniors passing the test narrowed by 0.6 percent from last year's class.

Overall, the passage rate for Latino seniors increased year-over-year by 0.9 percent in 2011. The Latino passage rate is now 92.3 percent

Similarly, the passage rates for African American seniors increased from the class of 2010 to the class of 2011 by 1.3 percent. The African American passage rate is now 90.9 percent.

The passage rate for white seniors also increased by 0.3 percent from last year, for a total passage rate of 98.4 percent.

African Americans and Latinos have also made significant gains since the test was first made a graduation requirement in 2006.

From the class of 2006 to the class of 2011, the achievement gap between white and black seniors narrowed by 6.1 percentage points.

Over that same time span, the achievement gap between white and Latino seniors narrowed by 5.7 percentage points.

When comparing Latino students in the class of 2011 with Latinos in the class of 2006, there was a 6.8 percent increase in the passage rate.

When making that same comparison for African Americans, there was a 7.2 percent increase in the passage rate.

For whites, the increase was 1.1 percent.

The results of this year's exit examination - and the progress schools are making to close the achievement gap - are yet another sign of the remarkable commitment that teachers, school employees, and administrators have to the students of California," said Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, in a statement.

The exit exam results would seem to contrast with numbers released only last week from the state's springtime standardized testing, which found the gap between racial and economic groups continues to pose a challenge.

Seventy-one percent of white and 76 percent of Asians student scored at proficient of above in the English section from the Standardized Testing and Reporting program.

But only 41 percent of African American students and 42 percent of Latino students reached the same benchmark on English assessments this year. A similar gap in scoring was found in math as well.

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