The number of students who pass the California High School Exit Examination has held steady, but more are passing it on the first try, according to data released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.
In The City, 95 percent of seniors with enough credits to graduate had passed the test by the time May rolled around. That was on par with the statewide figure, though city students were slightly less likely than their California peers to pass the first time.
In announcing the numbers, state school chief Tom Torlakson took an opportunity to slam cuts to education.
“It is heartening to see that our students continue to learn and achieve despite the painful toll that budget cuts are taking on our schools,” he said.
Students must pass both the English and math sections of the test to graduate, but they get eight chances to do so, with the first in 10th grade. Most sophomores in The City and statewide pass at least one section.
In their junior year, students get another two chances, and San Francisco juniors last year did much better than the class that preceded them. More than 81 percent of the class of 2012 has already passed both sections of the test, compared to 63 percent of the class of 2011 when they were juniors.
Students who haven’t passed the test after two years of trying get another five chances their senior year. Some special-education students can get waivers, but anyone else who doesn’t pass the test does not receive a diploma when their class graduates. People who have not received a diploma can keep trying to pass, taking the test up to three times a year.
The test is not only high stakes for would-be high school graduates. Schoolwide results will be taken into account by the state when school report cards are issued later this month. High schools that do not make progress may face sanctions under federal law.
Hundreds of San Francisco seniors did not meet requirements to graduate last May.
Number of seniors in May: 4,269
Number who had enough credits to graduate: 3,505
Number who fell short: 764
Number of students with enough credits who passed the California High School Exit Examination: 3,320
Number who did not pass: 185, all but 36 of whom were special education or English language learners
Students have eight tries to pass the exam, with the first in 10th grade. The percent of San Francisco sophomores who passed the math section is up from last year, but fewer passed the English section.
Sophomores at these city high schools passed the test at the greatest rates.
Abraham Lincoln 89%
Ruth Asawa 91%
Raoul Wallenberg 88%
Sophomores at these city high schools were least likely to pass.
Five Keys Charter 36%
June Jordan 43%
S.F. International 7%
Life Learning 55%
Source: California Department of Education