An Interview with Gabriel Diaz: Lessons from Cesar Chavez High School

Mar 28, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

Gabriel Diaz is the Learning Director of Cesar E. Chavez High School in San Joaquin Valley California.

In this interview, he responds to questions about his successes utilizing Revolution K12’s CAHSEE family of products.

  1. Gabriel, you have seen “great gains in pass rates on the California High School Exit Exam” (CAHSEE). First of all, what does CAHSEE stand for and when was the California High School Exit Exam first implemented?

The California High School Exit Exam, commonly referred to as the CAHSEE, was first implemented in 1999. The graduating class of 2006 was the first class mandated to have successfully passed the exam to graduate. Prior to implementing CAHSEE 380 three years ago, our passing rate in English Language Arts (ELA) was 77% and in math it was 85%. Today we are consistently performing at a 93% pass rate in math and a 91% pass rate in ELA.

  1.  What types of intervention programs have been implemented?

Three years ago we implemented an after-school program called Targeted Almost Proficient/Passing (TAP) which provides students with access to  380 program. Students who have been recommended by their teachers for extra interventions attend TAP from January – March, 45 minutes per day for 4-5 days per week, up until the Friday before the CAHSEE.

The majority of our student population is in the TAP program and, as a result, we have seen a steady increase in both the passing and the proficiency rates for all students. We now have a 90+% passing rate. Our success with CAHSEE 380 has been so great that we are hoping to implement the program earlier in the school year next year and we expect to see even greater gains as a result.

  1. How do you evaluate their success?

. We use the results of the CAHSEE to evaluate student success, including analyzing both proficiency rates and pass rates in all subgroups targeted with the program.

  1. What is this Revolution K12 program all about?

This program targets students’ difficult areas to help them learn the concepts where they are lagging behind. The CASHEE was designed to help ensure students are ready for college and CASHEE 380 helps students prepare for college entrance exams and increase overall academic success in Mathematics and English Language Arts.

  1. Why is it that so many students do not have good test preparation skills?

Unfortunately, many students are socially promoted. This contributes to an overall belief that performance and mastery are not requirements to moving forward. Other reasons students may not have adequate test preparation skills may be that their parents speak limited English or do not speak English at all, and/or that parents are unfamiliar with the test’s content, or that students have limited practice with the types of items they can expect to see on the test, have test anxiety or poor time management.

  1. What types of skills are focused on? Time management, process of elimination or something else?

CASHEE 380 is not focused on just passing the test. It is focused on helping students improve their knowledge. One of the strengths of the program is that it is individualized. It systematically fills the gaps by providing tutorials targeted to the students’ deficiencies. In addition, students learn test taking strategies like elimination while growing more accustomed to the style, format, and type of CAHSEE questions.

  1. What do you mean by a “Math Suite” and why do so many students have so many problems with math?

Mathematics is made up of several areas of skills that build upon each other. When a student is missing a key skill, they will not be successful in more advanced math. For instance, if a student does not understand exponents in pre-algebra, it will be extremely difficult to work through much harder algebra equations that require this understanding. Often, specific skill acquisition is overlooked until it is too late and students fall way behind or just give up.

  1. What is CAHSEE 380?

Revolution K12’s CAHSEE 380 software is designed to propel first-time testers, which are typically high school sophomores, toward proficiency which is a test score of 380. It is a 30-week course offering customized and scaffolded instruction of CASHEE concepts through a data-driven process, allowing ach student to be supported in learning those skills and concepts needed.

  1. What about students with special needs- are any special accommodations and modifications put into place? Do you track these students?

Students with special needs are given individualized education modifications, but are still required to take the CAHSEE. During the day, these students have a CAHSEE-focused class, where they are able to prepare with their math and English teachers and receive focused interventions. Most special needs students also attend the TAP after-school program. Internally, special needs students are tracked separately so we can monitor their progress, but for the purposes of California-state passing rates, they are included with all other students.

  1. How many students go on to college and actually complete the first semester or first year?

Our current graduation rate is 93%. Unfortunately, college matriculation and completion statistics on specific high school graduates is not available at this time.

  1. What about students from different backgrounds in terms of language- How do you assist them in mastering English?

California requires all K-12 students, regardless of their background, to take their classes in English. Students that are English Learners are enrolled in 2-4 English classes during the day to quickly and effectively help them learn English. EL students, if recommended by their teacher, are enrolled in the TAP after-school program like everyone else.

  1. What have I neglected to ask?

What also impressed us are the outcomes we have with EL students. Our EL students’ pass rates increased from 34% to 63% since we implemented TAP. This success has also crossed over to our annual accountability standards for AYP.

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