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Friday, 13th June 2008

Warning Signs Identify Children Likely To Fail High School Exit Exam

Warning Signs Identify Children Likely To Fail High School Exit Exam
Source: Public Policy Institute of California

Children who are at risk of failing the California High School Exit Exam can be accurately identified as early as the fourth grade, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The study suggests that shifting resources to struggling students in early grades will be a more effective way to improve achievement than the state’s current approach of focusing on students in the last year of high school.

Identifying both the characteristics that predict exam performance and the optimal age to give a student remedial help has important implications for parents, teachers, school administrators, and policymakers. The exit exam is the only part of the California accountability system with direct consequences for students, and the failure of many students to pass it, even after multiple attempts, is cause for concern. State-funded efforts to boost students’ skills are concentrated on students in 12th grade who are at risk of failing the test and those who already have left school and were unable to pass it. The study concludes that these efforts alone are unlikely to be effective. Of the students who leave 12th grade without passing the exam, few re-enroll in school or take the test again. Allowing students in the class of 2006 the option to retake the exam the following year raised the passing rate only marginally, from 90.4 percent to 90.7 percent.

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