WHITTIER – Two months before the end of the school year, about 235 Whittier-area high school students have failed to pass the state’s exit exam and are in danger of not receiving their diplomas, officials said Monday. Although statewide, more students were able to pass both portions of the California High School Exit Exam this year than last year, the same was not true at local school districts, Whittier educators said. The number of students able to pass the exam in the El Rancho Unified School District and in the Whittier Union High School District stayed the same this year as last year, while fewer students in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District have been able to pass it this year, officials said. “Have we found that there are fewer kids that we need to worry about when it comes to the exit exam? No,” said Julie Ellis, principal of El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. But local educators were quick to point out that officials still are awaiting results from exit exams seniors took in March – the final opportunity this year for upper-classmen to pass the two-part, 10th-grade-level test before graduations in June. In the Norwalk-La Mirada district, 150 seniors out of nearly 1,300 have yet to pass the exam, or 12 percent of this year’s graduating class. In the El Rancho district, 26 of 644 seniors have yet to pass it, or 4 percent of the senior class; while 56 of 2,435 seniors in the Whittier Union district – 2.3 percent – have not yet passed it. “We’re still waiting on the March results, but we don’t expect there will be a significant difference,” Ellis said. “These same kids took the same test two other times this year with the same preparations. I’m hoping the numbers \ will be lessened, but I don’t think it will be by much.” Last year, by the time graduations rolled around in late June, nearly all of the senior class in the Whittier Union High School District had passed the exam, giving the district the lowest fail rate among local districts. Only 17 students in a class of 2,278 seniors – 0.07 percent – were unable to pass the exam by June. Of those 17, four went on to pass the exam in July, said Carlye Olsen, director of staff development, assessment and accountability. Five others moved; the rest could not be tracked, she said. “It’s the district’s strong belief that many students will pass” the exit exam this year “because of the intensive interventions that are in place at each school,” Olsen said. California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he was happy with this year’s statewide passage rate on the exit exam. This year, 91.4 percent of seniors were able to pass it, about 2.1 percent more than in 2006. O’Connell credited “intensive instruction and remediation” for the increase. “We’re moving in the right direction,” O’Connell said. “Nearly $70 million of state funding is targeted specifically to help those students succeed. Our efforts are paying off.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!