Previous perceptions of Hesperia High School as the lowest-performing comprehensive high school in the Hesperia Unified School District may have reason to change.


The sophomore class of Scorpions recently took the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), one of several hurdles a student must overcome prior to graduation. The test results were surprising in a variety of ways, and have placed HHS on par with both other comprehensive high schools in the district.


HHS sophomores scored well in comparison to both other high schools in a variety of areas. Their combined pass rate on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the test, according to district documentation, was 84.4 percent. Sultana and Oak Hills students had pass rates of 83.9 percent and 82.5 percent, respectively.


"Our proficiency rate in ELA was higher than the other two schools and all three high schools achieved over 80 percent for Math. The reaction has been positive from the district office. There is an enormous pride for our students and teachers for their hard work and effort," said Assistant Principal Lisa Kelly.


While the math percentage was slightly lower than the other two high schools, 83.6 percent, in comparison to 86.1 percent for Sultana and 84 percent for Oak Hills, the improved score for HHS still beat the district target of 80 percent. HHS had a previous pass rate on both sections in the high 70s percent range previously.


Collaboration and the newly implemented CAHSEE Revolution 380 program, an online study program, have been credited for helping to produce the results, as has the overall effort of the participating students.


"I believe it was the collaboration of the team Mrs. Estrada put together last year, and a sincere effort of the students," said sophomore English teacher Corrie Myers. "Students and teachers alike stayed positive and focused. The sophomores rose to the challenge and put forth their best effort. That was the key. The online Revolution CAHSEE 380 program was new to us this year. This program enabled students to get a visual of what to expect on the actual exam, assessing their skills and giving them immediate feedback. Students were able to work on lessons that targeted their weaker skills."


"I attribute the success my students had on the CAHSEE to [the students]. They (although with a million complaints) put a lot of hard work into prepping for it. We worked on the Revolution program in the lab once a week, plus we did practice questions and worked on test taking strategies," said sophomore English teacher Stacy Barnes. "[The students] tried so hard on the test too. I am so proud of them. I would kiss them if it wouldn't get me fired."


The school also jumped in pass rates for English Language Learners (EL) and Special Education (SPED) students. EL students increased in pass rate on the ELA portion from 17.6 percent to 65.9 percent and from 15.7 percent to 67.1 percent on the math portion, SPED students increased from 7.7 percent to 41.2 percent on the ELA and 2.6 percent to 35.3 percent on the math. Both Sultana and Oak Hills experienced similar jumps in both the EL and SPED sub-groups, which appears to indicate that not just HHS, but the district as a whole, has keyed into interventions that have met with success, not only with the general education population, but with students that the education community has seen as more of a challenge in the past.


Several HHS students achieved perfect scores on the ELA or math portions of the test, 11 and nine respectively, including two students, Brittany Goss and Trisha Snowden, who missed an overall perfect score for both sections combined by one point, and Reagan Childers who scored perfectly on the entire test.


HHS staff members hope that a shift in the way the school is perceived on a district level is imminent.


"We hope" there is a cultural shift, said Kelly. "There was an excitement and anticipation with the staff and students to find out our scores. I feel that the school is moving in the right direction and we need to continue to implement programs that result in a positive upward shift."