K-8 School District’s Standardized Test Results Rise Across the Board

The Redwood City School District saw its biggest advances in the percent of students at proficient or advanced in five years.

Sergio J., a 7th grader at , was thrilled when he learned that he had jumped two levels in the English Language Arts on his 6th grade STAR test compared to 5th grade.

Sergio is just one of thousands of students at the who saw gains in their Standardized Testing And Reporting (STAR) test in 2012, according to results released Friday morning by the California Department of Education (CA DOE). Across all subjects, the percent of students scoring “Proficient” or “Advanced” increased , except for the small number of 8th graders taking General Mathematics.

“We are extremely proud of our students and our staff, and very, very happy about the level of learning that occurred last year,” said Superintendent Jan Christensen in a statement. “This year’s STAR results are validation that the strategies we have been using are working, and that our students are building a foundation for future success in school and life.”

Subject Grade Levels Students w/ Scores % 'Proficient' or 'Advanced' 2012 % 'Proficient' or 'Advanced' 2011 % Increase from 2011 to 2012 # of County students w/ Scores % 'Proficient' or 'Advanced' English-Language Arts 2-8
6354 55% 45.7% 9.3% 66,786 66% Mathematics 2-7
5560 63.7% 60% 3.7% 66,552 59.5% General Mathematics 8 235 15% 20% -5%

Algebra 7,8 658 57% 49% 8%

Geometry 8 36 86% 74% 12%

History 8 892 45% 42% 1% 19,823 57.9% Science CST 5,8 1661 53.4% 50.6% 2.8% 19,413 66.1%

saw gains in every grade level for every subject. 8th graders scoring proficient or advanced in the California Standards Test (CST) for English language improved by 19 percentage points. The 8th graders also saw an increase of 27 percentage points for students scoring proficient or advanced in the CST for Algebra.

In History, Kennedy 8th graders improved by 15 percentage points and in science  they increased by 12 percentage points. A further analysis of the CST English language arts test data revealed that approximately 45 percent of all Kennedy 8th graders that took the test in 2012 improved by at least one performance level in English language arts.

Roosevelt School also saw large increases in the number of students proficient this year. Third graders scoring proficient or advanced in ELA in 2012 rose by 13 percentage points, and in math CST scores rose by 27 percentage points. Roosevelt also saw big gains in proficiency in ELA at the 2nd grade level, where CST scores rose by 12 percentage points. 

The district also made significant progress in closing the achievement gap between white students and other demographic sub-groups.  In 2008, the gap between the percent of white students scoring at proficient or advanced and the percent of English language learners (ELL) students scoring at proficient or advanced in English language arts (ELA), for example, was about 49 percentage points.  In 2012, the gap between the proficiency levels of the two groups is now about 42 percentage points. 

In math, the gap between the two groups has been reduced by about 9 points. Hispanic or Latino students have also made large gains over the past five years. The percentage of Hispanic/Latino students scoring at proficient or advanced in ELA has risen by about 11 percent over the last five years. The percentage of white students scoring at proficient in ELA and math has risen by about 7 percent over the last five years. 

“Beginning in 2007 we invested significantly in training that increased the skills and resources available to our highly skilled staff,” Christensen said. “ We have continued to build on that initial training by strategically using limited funds from the state and federal government, grants, and our local partners.” 

“And now with community resources from the going directly to our schools, we will be able to maintain the momentum we have built,” she added.

Voters passed an annual $67 parcel tax that will for students over the next five years.

Check out the District's as well.


State-wide Results

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson sent out a glowing statement, touting how statewide scores in math and English-language arts have risen for the ninth year in a row.

“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient, to better than one student in two,” Torlakson said. “That’s nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003 - a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.”

Torlakson said the achievement is even more noteworthy considering how badly California schools are struggling financially these days.

“Even more remarkable is the fact that our students continue to make gains even as our schools and the teachers, administrators and school employees working in them are getting by with so much less,” Torlakson said. “As pleased as I am by the great progress many students are making, the deep school budget cuts of recent years make it ever less likely these gains will continue.”

“Preventing further cuts and beginning to restore what’s been lost are essential to helping every student learn and prepare for the future.”

Results for 2012 rose 3 percentage points over last year in English-language arts, and 1 percentage point in mathematics. Since 2003, the scores have risen 22 points in English-language arts - or from 35 to 57 percent scoring “proficient” or “advanced" - and 16 percentage points in math, or from 35 to 51 percent.

However, Torlakson said, while the STAR results show an increase in proficiency levels among all subgroups, a “persistent achievement gap” exists for African American, Latino, English-learner, and low-income students, compared to their peers.

“Like every teacher, parent, and principal, despite the decade of progress we’ve seen, I won’t be completely satisfied until every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential,” Torlakson said.


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Bret Baird September 02, 2012 at 05:03 AM
It is great that people can now see Kennedy Middle School in a new light. Over the years we went from being a California Distinguished School to the Rape School, to the almost Extinguished School. Now we have a waiting list of families eager to get in. Our recent accomplishments show that the talent was there all along and that we just needed a positive, proactive leader. Our staff has always been amazing, yet often undervalued. Bret Baird Kennedy Middle School Teacher since 1991
Follow the money September 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM
While I do not think that test scores are everything, it is a measure used to evaluate studnts. Given this increase in performance, it oes suggest that not only did larger class size not hurt test score, it might even have helped. Certianly no one can make the case that larger class sizes hurt test scores.
Bret Baird September 02, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Lack of leadership hurt test scores in our case. Students do better when they get more individual attention. Lower class sizes help in every aspect of a child's development.
rcrapes September 03, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Good leadership definitely has an impact on test scores. It's NOT the MONEY! In the past, lower class size didn't have a significant impact on test scores or they would've come up years ago when class sizes were lower!
John Foley September 03, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Rcrapes is right. It is not the money! If Mr. Baird is correct in that it is a "leadership" issue---one must ask why the past leader was recycled to a different school and not forced out, transferred, or retired like so many excellent teachers have been. the taxpayers will never see the sunset of the $67 bond. NEVER----not until the good old boys club is finally destroyed.......


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