Grades and behavior in fourth grade predict who will fail California’s high school exit exam, concludes a new study by Public Policy Institute of California. The quality of high school teachers has little effect.
High schools get extra funds to help 12th graders and older ex-students who’ve repeatedly failed the exam. Too late, say PPIC researchers. Moving some of those tutoring dollars to earlier grades — they suggest a study of the best time to intervene — could
Instead, the authors suggested, “moving a portion of these tutoring dollars to struggling students in earlier grades — when the students are still in school — could be a wise choice. An ounce of prevention could indeed be worth a pound of cure.”
Some 93 percent of students pass the exam by the end of 12th grade; that doesn’t count students who drop out. However, those who barely pass aren’t well-prepared for the future, PPIC points out. Students can pass the math exam with a 55 percent score; it requires middle-school math skills, including some algebra. The multiple-choice test has four options per question, so you can do the math on random guessing. Reading, also multiple choice, requires a 60 percent score; some questions require ninth- and tenth-grade skills.