Best Practice: Kaplan program improves students’ pass rate on state math exam

Like most high-stakes tests across the country, the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) poses a significant challenge for schools and their students. But East Side Union High School District in San Jose achieved outstanding pass-rate gains on the math portion of the exam last summer, with help from Kaplan K12 Learning Services Inc.

East Side UHSD includes 10 high schools with a total population of more than 23,000 students. Forty percent of the student population is Hispanic, 22 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and 19 percent are English language learners.

Kaplan K12 has been partnering with East Side UHSD for a number of years, providing SAT services through its College Preparation Partnership Program. With the implementation of the CAHSEE and the new requirements for graduation, East Side UHSD expanded its partnership with Kaplan to include state test preparation.

In particular, East Side tapped Kaplan K12 to provide juniors who failed the spring administration of the CAHSEE with summer school remediation just prior to the summer CAHSEE retest. Independence, James Lick, Overfelt, and Yuerba Buena High School juniors used Kaplan K12’s CASHEE Success program to build core academic skills needed for graduation.

Kaplan K12 teachers worked with more than 100 juniors to help them prepare for the July mathematics CAHSEE retest. Using CAHSEE Success, Kaplan instructors provided approximately 20 days of instruction in each of the six sites throughout June and early July. During two-hour sessions that ran Monday through Friday, Kaplan teachers worked with average class sizes of 20 students.

Kaplan’s CAHSEE Success combines both skills and strategies to provide students with essential information they need to know to perform their best on the exam. Targeted, skill-building exercises support student learning through guided and independent practice. Step-by-step methods and hints emphasize critical thinking and demonstrate how to break down the problem-solving process. Each course includes practice exams on question types similar to the test items that appear on the CAHSEE.

Results speak for themselves

Of the 676 East Side juniors who participated in summer school, 101 of them were Kaplan students. These Kaplan students passed at an average rate of 46.5 percent, whereas an average of only 19.5 percent of the non-Kaplan students passed the CAHSEE retest. This difference of 27 percentage points accounts for the overwhelming 19.13 average point improvement made by Kaplan students on the exam.

Kaplan students passed at a rate of 42.9 percent at Independence, 41.7 percent at James Lick, 57.1 percent at Overfelt, and 42.6 percent at Yuerba Buena. A total of 286 non-Kaplan students only passed at a rate of 18.4 percent, 16.4 percent, 17.74 percent, and 22.6 percent, respectively (see graphic).

Through Kaplan’s scaffolded instructional design, targeted professional development, and ongoing support, teachers can help their students apply strategic approaches to improved performance on the CAHSEE and other state exams. A Kaplan K12 consultant is available to tailor an implementation plan for regular school year instruction, after-school programs, tutoring programs, or turnkey Kaplan-taught programs. For more information, call toll-free (888) KAPLAN-8 or visit

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