Costa students fly high on exit exams

Costa students fly high on exit exams

by Paul Teetor

As expected, Mira Costa freshmen who took the California High School Exit Examination last spring had one of the highest passing rates in the state.

"Our students did extremely well, and we’re extremely pleased," said Sheralynn Smith, an assistant superintendent in the Manhattan Unified School District. "We’re right up there with the highest scoring districts in the state."

Scores released last week show that in the English Language Arts, 556 Mira Costa freshmen took the exam and 522 passed, for a 94 percent passing rate.

In the mathematics exam, 529 Mira Costa freshmen took the exam and 437 passed, for an 83 percent passing rate.

Smith said she expects to see the gap between the English scores and the math scores narrow in the future.

"With the new math standards, algebra is now being introduced at the kindergarten level. But this group that took the test last spring has not had the new math standards," Smith said. "I’m convinced that in a few years we will see a dramatic rise in our math scores."

And Smith pointed out that, countywide, only 55 percent of the students passed the English exit exam and only 35 percent passed the math exam.

Starting with the class of 2004, all California students must pass these exit exams to graduate from high school.

The state has now decided that the test will be first given in the sophomore year. But Smith said the students who took and passed the tests as freshmen last spring will not have to take them again

"If they passed it last spring, it will count," she said. "They will never have to take it again."

Those students who did not pass this year will get another chance next spring, Smith said. Those who fail again will have to take it again.

"You can’t graduate without passing these exams," she said.

Statewide, 64 percent of the students passed the English exams, while 44 percent passed the math exams.

"Comparatively speaking, we’re doing really well," Smith said. "We’re way up there." ER