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Early College students ace exit exam

School prepares students with a boot camp, Saturday class

Posted: May 26, 2009 9:33 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
When it comes to passing the California High School Exit Exam, leave it up to the 68 10th-graders at Early College High School.

Every 10th-grader passed the required exit exam on the first try, a first for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

To top it off, 90 percent of students were ranked at "proficient" or above, and several students received perfect scores in math or English.

"Students just didn't pass, they passed with style," Principal Erum Jones said Tuesday.

"It was just such a proud moment," she added. "They really gave it their all and the results speak to the commitment and dedication of everyone involved."

The Hart district typically has a 90-percent pass rate on the exit exam, said David LeBarron, director of curriculum.

To achieve its goal, Early College High School, a two-year-old school that allows students to earn high-school and college credits simultaneously, took a proactive approach to make sure students knew how to conquer the exit exam, Jones said.

For example, English teachers graded students using two separate grading standards - one the teacher developed and another set forth by the state for exit-exam essays, Jones said.

Along with training, Jones evaluated students individually, analyzing student data.

By looking at transcripts and individual student evaluation, Jones identified 25 students who took part in extra instructional time through a four-week boot camp held before students took the exam in March.

To top it off, 90 percent of the 10th grade class took part in a California Exit Exam Power Up Class the Saturday before testing started, she said.

"We kind of hit all the big areas, clearing out the cobwebs," Jones said. "We did a lot of work on test-taking strategies."

The school already boasts an Academic Performance Index score of 889 for the 2007-08 school year, the highest in the Hart district, Jones said.

The state begins administering the exit exam to students in the 10th grade so those who don't do well will have sufficient time to improve their skills and retake the test.

The school hopes to hit an API score of 900 this year, Jones said.

The highest API score possible is 1000.

The results of this year's API scores will be available in August. The API scores released last week are from the 2007-08 school year.

The school's achievements on the exit exam come as Early College High School prepares to merge with Academy of the Canyons in the fall. It will take the Academy of the Canyons name.

After the merger, classes will be held at the nearly completed University Center on the College of the Canyons Valencia campus.

To mark the transition, Early College High School will host a closing ceremony on Friday at College of the Canyons to honor its 134 freshmen and sophomores.

"I believe in my students and I know what they're capable of," Jones said. "Friday will be a recognition of that."

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