By, Joseph Morales
For nine years, high schools implemented the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) as a graduation requirement for sophomores as well as a measurement of academic success for the school itself. Bonita Vista’s staff made a special effort to to prepare sophomores for this crucial two day test over the past year.
“Once [the CAHSEE] became a graduation requirement to get your diploma, we started implementing extra support and interventions to make sure that everybody had the chance to get the diploma,” Head of the Math Department and math teacher Christina Ada said.
According to the California Department of Education, Bonita’s CAHSEE pass rate for the 2013-2014 school year was 94% for English and 96% for math. Nevertheless, CAHSEE preparation continues to be a priority amongst Bonita staff.
“We want to have a high percentage of our students not only passing, but also getting advanced and proficient,” Head of English Department and underclassman English teacher Kalie Betts said.
In order to achieve this goal, students that scored lower than 70% on the CAHSEE diagnostic were assigned to a four-hour saturday reteach session, CAHSEE academy, for both math and English. CAHSEE academy is nothing new. For three years, Coordinated Intervention Services (CIS) Coordinator, Michele Godoy, developed a CAHSEE prep system, making it easier for students to pass the CAHSEE and achieve a higher score.
“The purpose of the CAHSEE academy is to provide additional academic support for 10th grade students that need extra help to pass the actual CAHSEE,” Godoy said.
Although these sessions proved themselves to be greatly beneficial for students, only roughly half of the 270 sophomores who were assigned to attended the Saturday CAHSEE sessions did so.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get as many students as we had hoped,” Academic Recovery Center (ARC) coordinator Sarita Urbano said.
However, this is not the only chance for students to obtain an in-depth review for such an important test. Urbano also created a review contest, that she is calling the CAHSEE bowl.
“There is a lot of discussion involved, and it’s really helping them review and go in-depth with the question,” Urbano said.
The CAHSEE bowl is among all of the english 10 classes. Urbano gives each class four questions and the class that gets the most questions correct by Monday, March 16 will win a pizza party. Students can also rely on Urbano’s after school ARC tutoring for further support on CAHSEE review.
“A lot of the CAHSEE students are some of my ARC students and so I’ve noticed that they are able to do more of the problems during ARC,” Urbano said.
This provides a more one-on-one review for struggling students who need it.
“I can tell that they are using the knowledge that they take from CAHSEE academy into their classrooms and doing it [in] their actual math homework,” Urbano said.
Bonita has worked hard to form a reliable CAHSEE support system for its students, specially now that our school is no longer evaluated by an Academic Performance Index (API) score. The API score once served as a method to measure our school’s performance. Now, the CAHSEE pass rate has the burden of informing school administrators as well as district and state officials how successful a school is at educating students.
“Last year last year we had 94% pass rate at the school, and we are expecting to have that or better this year.” Betts said.
Bonita is left with CAHSEE scores as one of the main indicators of how students are doing academically. However, the CAHSEE is expected to undergo changes by 2017.
“The CAHSEE is going to be readjusted to match the new Common Core. It is not going away, there will still be some kind of high school exit exam,” Ada said.
As of right now, Bonita is one of the top scoring schools is in the district. Thanks to the CAHSEE bowl and CAHSEE academy, students are more than prepared to pass with flying colors, thus giving Bonita a good evaluation.
“As far as [the] CAHSEE, [goes] we are doing extremely well. We are going to continue doing what we are doing” Godoy said.