Exit exams show upward trends for Gilroy schools

 

As a whole, Gilroy’s sophomores are passing the high school exit
exam on their first try in increasing numbers, but Christopher High
School’s 10th graders outperformed their Gilroy High School
counterparts on mathematics and language arts tests.
As a whole, Gilroy’s sophomores are passing the high school exit exam on their first try in increasing numbers, but Christopher High School’s 10th graders outperformed their Gilroy High School counterparts on mathematics and language arts tests.

At CHS, 89 percent of the school’s first batch of sophomores passed the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam and 86 percent passed the language arts portion, compared to 80 percent and 79 percent at GHS. However, GHS educates a significantly higher number of low-income students and teens still learning English, Superintendent Deborah Flores pointed out.

While just more than half of the 281 CHS sophomores who took the test come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, 64 percent of the 440 GHS sophomores tested come from similar backgrounds. Additionally, a higher percentage of students learning English as their second language attend GHS, said Kermit Schrock, director of student assessment and data management.

“Little things like that will affect the scores,” he said. “I think as Christopher grows, it will balance out.”

Passing the CAHSEE is a graduation requirement and students are given multiple chances over the course of their sophomore through senior years to take the test. The test is designed to measure the skills in which students should be proficient in the 10th grade, so students should be able to pass on their first try, Flores said.

At the Dr. T.J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy, every one of the sophomores passed the test on the first try.

The district’s overall performance outshined the state’s and fell only a few percentage points behind the county’s, an achievement Flores said she was pleased with.

“We’re outperforming the state and we’re proud of that,” she said. “We’re also very happy to be that close to the county because this is a very diverse county with a lot of high-performing, high-wealth districts.”

Compared to the state and county, Gilroy has a higher percentage of poor students, with 57 percent qualifying as socioeconomically disadvantaged. Only 35 percent of county students and 52 percent of state students are classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Another bright spot on the district’s scorecard was the steady narrowing of the so-called achievement gap – the disparity between the performance of white and Asian students and their Hispanic and African American peers.

This year, 89 percent of white students at GHS passed the math and language arts portions of the CAHSEE while 78 percent of Hispanic students passed math and 75 percent passed language arts. Though educators aim to close the gap entirely, the discrepancy in scores was much more stark five years ago, with 85 percent of white students at GHS passing math and 89 percent passing language arts compared to 64 percent of Hispanic students passing math and 72 percent passing language arts.

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