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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #13-78
August 29, 2013
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Reports Improved
Results on High School Exit Exam

Accountability Results Show Majority of California Schools Meet or Exceed State Target

SACRAMENTO—Students in the class of 2013 passed California's High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) at the highest rate since the test was made a graduation requirement, with 95.5 percent earning a passing score, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

CAHSEE and Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores, announced earlier this month, figure heavily in state and federal school accountability results, which Torlakson also announced today. For the second straight year, a majority of schools statewide met or exceeded the state performance target of 800 points on the Academic Performance Index (API).

"Despite the very real challenges of deep budget cuts and the ongoing effort to shift to new, more demanding academic standards, our schools persevered and students made progress," Torlakson said. "These results should give us confidence as we start the new school year, and our efforts to make college- and career-readiness a goal for every student move into high gear."

The 2012-13 CAHSEE Summary Reports

The CAHSEE is administered each year to ensure that students who graduate from public high schools demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students who do not pass the CAHSEE in grade ten have two opportunities in grade eleven and up to five opportunities in grade twelve to pass the exam.

The preliminary 2012-13 results—which are for the July, October, November, and December 2012 and the February, March, and May 2013 administrations—show increased passing rates among most demographic subgroups of students by the end of their senior year.

The estimated 95.5 percent—or 425,911—students from the Class of 2013 who met the CAHSEE requirement by the end of their senior year represents a 0.5 percentage point increase over 2012 and a 5.1 percentage point increase since the test was first administered in 2006 as a requirement of graduation (Tables 1 and 2).

A larger percentage of students also passed the test in their sophomore year, when the CAHSEE is given to all tenth grade students for the first time. Approximately 73.8 percent of the Class of 2013 passed both the mathematics and English-language arts (ELA) portions of the exam on their first attempt—a 2.3 percentage point increase over first-time test takers in 2012 and a 9.5 percentage point increase over first-time test takers in 2006 (Table 2).

For the Class of 2013 passing the CAHSEE by the end of their senior year also included an estimated 91.8 percent of African American students; 82.2 percent of students who are learning English; 98.5 percent of white students; 93.5 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged, and 93.8 of Hispanic or Latino students (Table 1).

(Please note: The statewide passing rates in Tables 1, 2, and 3 combine the results for both the mathematics and ELA sections of the CAHSEE. These results are taken from specially prepared reports produced by the CAHSEE independent evaluator, the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). Other results provided by ETS, the CDE test contractor, including those for counties, districts, and schools are not combined and give the percentages of students passing either math or ELA.)

During the 2012-13 CAHSEE administration, 610,706 students took the English-language arts (ELA) section with 457,606 passing and 597,745 took the mathematics section, with 455,354 passing.

The upcoming graduating Class of 2014 (who were eleventh graders this past school year) and the Class of 2015 (who were tenth graders this past school year) already have increased the percentage of students passing the CAHSEE as first-time test takers during their sophomore year. Some 83 percent of the Class of 2014 and 83.2 percent of the Class of 2015 already have passed the ELA compared to 82.4 percent of the Class of 2013 (Table 4). For mathematics, the passage rate was 83.6 percent for the Class of 2014 and 84.1 percent for the Class of 2015, compared to 82.7 percent for the Class of 2013 (Table 5).

While there has been some progress made over the long term to narrow the achievement gap between student groups, the results have been mixed. The percentage point change between the Class of 2014 and Class of 2015 CAHSEE for first-time test takers shows a slight narrowing of the achievement gap between Hispanic and white students in both English-language arts and mathematics (Table 6). The achievement gap between African American and white grade ten students increased slightly in English-language arts and decreased slightly in mathematics (Table 7).

Results for the CAHSEE, which is one of several state and local graduation requirements for all students, will be provided at the school, district, county, and state levels and will be posted on the CDE CAHSEE Summary Results [Note: this Web page no longer shows 2012-13 summary results.] Web page. Individual student CAHSEE results are confidential and are not included in the Internet posting.

Statewide Accountability: 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index Results

The Growth API results show that the majority of all schools, including 56 percent of elementary schools, 50 percent of middle schools, and 31 percent of high schools are now meeting the state benchmark (Table 8).

The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. School and student group targets are set at 5 percent of the difference between the school or student group's Base API score (posted last May, along with school ranks) and the statewide target of 800, with a minimum target of 5 points. All numerically significant student groups at a school must meet their growth targets for a school to meet its API growth target.

Statewide, the overall API declined by 2 points from last year, from 791 to 789, although a number of student subgroups saw gains. Realizing the largest gains among student subgroups were socioeconomically disadvantaged students, who increased by 5 percentage points; English learners with a 1 percentage point increase; and students with disabilities with a 5 percentage point increase (Table 9).

For more information, please see the 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index Results [Note: this Web page no longer shows 2012-13 API results.].

Federal Accountability: 2013 Adequate Yearly Progress Results

As expected, the unrealistic federal proficiency targets set under No Child Left Behind continued to identify an even larger number of schools, including many at or above the state's performance target, for Program Improvement (PI).

"It is unfortunate that officials in Washington continue to enforce a program they have acknowledged is deeply flawed, and that paints too many high-achieving schools with the same broad brush," Torlakson said. "As an elected official, I'm obliged to comply with the law. But as a teacher, I'll continue to urge Congress and the Administration to get to work, change course, and replace No Child Left Behind with a workable law that fosters rather than hinders the progress California's schools are making."

The Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) performance targets for 2012-13 identify all Title I schools for Program Improvement unless nearly 90 percent of students attain proficiency.

As a result, only 14 percent out of 9,861 schools met the AYP benchmarks this year compared to 26 percent last year. Of the more than 6,200 Title I-funded schools, only 10 percent reached federal proficiency (Table 10).

Among the schools identified for PI, 30 percent have an API of 800 or higher. This year, 741 Title I schools are new to PI (Table 11).

For more information, please see the 2013 Adequate Yearly Progress Results [Note: this Web page no longer shows 2012-13 AYP results.].

Social Media Postings of Testing Materials

As was noted in both 2012 and 2013 in the administration of other standardized tests among high school students, a number of students posted pictures of CAHSEE testing materials to social media sites.

Social media site postings were linked to 72 schools, of which eight postings showed a test question. At the remaining 64 schools, the postings were not of actual questions, but of test booklet covers or answer documents. As has been the case with other assessments, the postings appeared to be motivated by students seeking to attract attention from their peers, not to gain an advantage on the exam itself. The scores for students who posted test questions to social media sites were invalidated. An analysis of the results showed no evidence that any posting affected the validity or reliability of the assessments themselves.

While these incidents have remained isolated, CDE views any breach of testing protocols with great concern. As with the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, several security measures were implemented, including more rigorous monitoring and increased numbers of random security audits at school sites, revising test administration guides; and training CAHSEE coordinators and those who administer or proctor the test.

Schools that have been linked to a social media posting of STAR test questions and where more than 5 percent of the students tested were affected by the posting of test materials will have their APIs invalidated. All schools found to have any kind of social media posting during STAR or CAHSEE testing will be excluded from state academic awards programs for the coming year.


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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
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