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School District STAR Test Results Are Up:

Superintendent of the Santa Monica Unified School District (SMMUSD) John Deasy told the School Board last Thursday that in the 2005 testing period of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program students achieved “all-time historic highs” in some areas.

According to a School District press release, “Each year, students in grades 2 through 11 take a California Standards Test (CST) in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. History and Science are tested at some, but not all, grade levels. Students attain one of five levels of performance on the CSTs for each subject tested: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. The State Board of Education has established the proficient level as the desired achievement goal for all students. It is important to remember that California’s proficiency level is higher than almost all other states.”

Deasy’s report to the Board concentrated on student performance in ELA and Mathematics. Ninth graders showed the largest increase in ELA scores. The number of 9th graders who attained a proficient or advanced rose from 51 percent in 2004 to 65 percent in 2005. Also significant was the fact that 72 percent of 4th graders scored in the proficient or advanced range. The other grade that showed a significant gain was grade 11. In a comparison of student scores in 2004 and 2004, eight out of the 10 grades tested showed improvement.

The 2005 STAR data also showed that economically disadvantaged students showed significant gains between 2002 and 2005 with 9th graders showing the largest gain of 25 percentage points followed by 4th graders’ gain of 22 points. Other grades that achieved double-digit improvement in their scores were the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th grades. Deasy said that those students had achieved “historic growth” and that the “magnitude indicates students are growing towards proficiency faster who are economically disadvantaged and that is the way you close the achievement gap.”

In Mathematics, 3rd graders showed the largest one-year gain of eight percent in the proficient and advanced levels. Other grades showing significant gains were 2nd and 5th grades.

Economically disadvantaged students attained double-digit improvement in Mathematics when 2005 scores 2005 are compared to 2002 for grades 3, 4, 5 and 7. In 2005, 50 percent of the students in 2nd and 3rd grade were rated proficient or advanced in Mathematics.

Eighth grade testing is based upon the specific mathematics curriculum students are studying. Deasy said, “over 600 of the approximately 1000 8th graders in the district took the algebra CST. 50 percent of them scored at the proficient or advanced levels. 72 8th graders took the geometry CST. 96 percent of them scored at the proficient or advanced levels. Over 300 8th graders took the general mathematics CST. Just over 20 percent scored at the proficient or advanced levels. More than half of the 8th grade students who are economically disadvantaged took the algebra CST. Of those 122 students, 39% scored at the proficient or advanced level.”

Deasy also noted that, in general, District students outperform other students in Los Angeles County on both the ELA and Mathematics STAR tests.

In other business, the Board unanimously approved a revised partial meal policy for District elementary students who come to the cafeteria without money. The policy is as follows.

1. Students who are new or who require District assistance are to be fed a full meal for the first three days and marked as paid on the daily sales worksheet.

2. Parents who prepay will receive a written notice when the number of meals available reaches 5 (five), or cash equivalent ($13.75). Only one notice will be sent as a reminder. The notice will be sent by the school office.

3. Students will be allowed to owe for only three consecutive complete meals, a value not to exceed $8.25 for the 2005/06 school year.

4. If a child comes through the serving line without money, the Cafeteria Lead will issue a notice to the School Office. The School Office will send this notice to the parent.

5. If a child does not have money and has exceeded his/her three-meal credit, a partial meal will be offered to the student. The partial meal will be a nutritionally adequate meal consisting of a cheese sandwich and nonfat milk. A written reminder notice will be sent home with the child on the first day when a partial meal is served. The notice will be sent by the school office.

6. A Negative Balance Report will be printed on a weekly basis and sent to the school office. The school office staff will send a letter or contact all parents on the list. The school office staff will remind parents of the balance due and the fact that their child may be receiving a partial meal.

7. Meal credits and cash balances may be transferred between household members only.Unless otherwise agreed upon with the school office or school PTA, parents are solely responsible for ensuring that their child’s account is active and does not have negative status. There is no credit or partial meal service for secondary students.

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