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Tenth graders scores for 2008 California High School Exit Exam

Seventy-seven percent of San Diego Unified 10th graders passed the English portion of the 2008 California High School Exit Exam, and the same percentage passed the math section, up slightly from the previous year, state education officials announced today.

The percentage of San Diego 10th graders passing the English language arts section of the exit exam rose from 76 percent to 77 percent, and the pass rate for math also increased from 76 percent to 77 percent, according to the California Department of Education.

Seventy-nine percent of 10th graders statewide passed the English portion of the exit exam in 2008, while 78 percent passed the math section.

Statewide, 90.2 percent of seniors from the class of 2008 passed the overall exam, down from 93.3 percent the previous year, according to the CDE. The pass rates for the 2008 graduating class for individual districts won’t be available until the fall, according to Pam Slater, spokeswoman for the CDE.

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All students in California must take the exit exam during their sophomore year. They have two more opportunities to pass it in the 11th grade and three chances as seniors.

“The California High School Exit Exam is an important tool to ensure that all students who get a diploma in California have at least a minimum level of skills in English language arts and math that are critical to success in the increasingly competitive global economy,’' said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction.

“I am very proud of all the students who have met the exit exam requirement,’' O’Connell said. I also urge any student who has yet to pass the test not to give up and to keep working to meet this important goal. Our schools will not give up on students who need additional help to master these critical skills.’'

This is the first year that students receiving special education services were required to pass the exit exam. Of the special education students, only 53.8 percent met the requirement statewide, according to the CDE.

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“We must work harder to help students who receive special education services prepare for and pass the exit exam,’' O’Connell said.

“Students with disabilities are entitled to take the exit exam with any accommodation or modification specified in their individualized education programs, but students in special education, just like all students, deserve a diploma that has value in the eyes of employers in our state,’' he said. “The exit exam requirement ensures that all students who earn a diploma have important basic skills that will help them succeed in the workforce.’'

The class of 2006 was the first graduating class in California that was required to meet the exit exam requirement.

In a statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said all California children should be able to pass the exit exam and he was committed to helping, budgeting more than $415 million for supplemental instruction.

“The California High School Exit Exam helps ensure that students earning a high school diploma have a minimum skill level in math and the English language arts -- skills critical for future success,’' Schwarzenegger said.

“While it is promising to see an increase in passage rates for first- time test takers in both English-language arts and math, our most important work still continues as we strive to close the achievement gap and ensure all students acquire the fundamental skills necessary to compete in today’s global economy,’' he added.