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Exit exam gets passing grades

Molly Shore

Results of the California High School Exit Exam for 2002-03 are good

news to Burbank teachers and district administrators, because the

percentage of students in the 2004 and 2005 graduating classes who


passed is higher than the percentages for the county and state.

The data, released Friday by the state Department of Education,

indicates that 55% of the district’s students passed the math portion

of the exam, while the county percentage is 37% and the state’s is


43%. In English and language arts, 76% of district students passed,

compared to 62% countywide and 66% statewide.

The test results are based on the July, September and November

2002 exams and January, March and May administrations this year.

New coursework, including a two-year algebra program at the

district’s high schools, as well as intervention, power clinics and

tutoring, contributed to the rising pass rates, said Caroline Brumm,

the district’s student and program evaluation coordinator.


“I met individually with [all] students who came within 32 points

of passing, and I gave them a copy of their tests,” Brumm said. “I

identified what they needed to know, gave them a packet of what they

needed to work on, and gave them a list of tutors available to help


Despite the state Board of Education’s decision to delay the exit

exam until 2006 as a graduation requirement, John Burroughs High

School Principal Emilio Urioste said, “Our attitude is we’re not


relaxing because we have to prepare our Class of 2006.”

At Burroughs, the passing rate in math rose from 33% in 2001-02 to

57% in 2002-03. In the English portion of the exam, the passing rate

rose from 65% to 82%.

Urioste attributes the success to several factors, including the

school’s ninth- and 10th-grade reading classes, and 15 minutes of

silent reading in each class every week.

Burbank High School numbers also reflect an increase in the number

of students who passed the exam.

During the 2002-03 school year, 57% passed the exam, up from 33%

in the 2001-02 school year. In the English portion of the exam, 75%

passed the test, an increase of 25% from the previous year.

Michael Bertram, Burbank’s assistant principal of instruction,

said that this year’s sophomores will take the exit exam for the

first time in March, and he expects even higher passing rates.

“The bottom line is the high stakes,” Bertram said. “Students

realize this is the test that must be passed to get a diploma.”