This year’s graduates passed the California High School Exit Examination at the highest rate since it became a graduation requirement, with 95.5 percent passing statewide, the Department of Education announced this week.
Students first take the exit exam as high school sophomores, and 83 percent of Santa Barbara County 10th-graders passed the math portion and 82 percent passed the English-language arts portion.
The lowest passing rates in 2013 were from special-education students (38 percent in both categories) and English Learner students with a 43 percent pass rate in English-language arts.
The CAHSEE and STAR scores, released earlier this month, are both used to calculate state and federal school accountability scores. The state Academic Performance Index has a target of 800 and goes up to 1,000. Statewide API results went down overall for the 2012-13 year, but the majority of elementary schools are meeting state benchmarks. Only half of the junior high schools and 31 percent of high schools are meeting the benchmarks.
Franklin Principal Casie Killgore was celebrating the Computers for Families event when the scores were released, and said she was excited the students had done so well. Franklin has improved 125 points over five years, she noted.
Goleta Union schools all have APIs over 800, and even though seven schools had scores drop, they all met the state growth targets, according to the data released Thursday.
Statewide STAR scores went slightly down, too, which State Superintendent Tom Torlakson attributed partly to ongoing budget cuts and the transition to Common Core.
Numerous schools — including La Cumbre Junior High School — had their standardized testing results flagged by the Department of Education after students posted test-related photos on social media.
The state invalidates a school’s API if the security breach impacts more than 5 percent of the students tested, but that didn’t impact any schools this year.
Torlakson calls the federal No Child Left Behind rules “unrealistic” and as a result, even more schools have been identified for Program Improvement, he said in a statement this week.
The Adequate Yearly Progress targets make all Title I schools go into Program Improvement with specific benchmarks unless nearly 90 percent of students are proficient in subject areas.
Fifteen Santa Barbara Unified schools are in Program Improvement, and no Title I schools met English or math criteria last year, though most met their state criteria.
In 2011, McKinley Elementary became only the second school in the county to ever get out of Program Improvement.