The most recent California standard tests show that students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District exceed the average but wide gaps still exist among races and in students who come from economically disadvantaged households.
At its meeting Wednesday evening, the board of education went over the results during a presentation by Maureen Bradford, the district’s director of assessment, research, and evaluation, In general, the spring test results “paint a picture of continued, steady gains in the percentage of students who score at the proficient or advanced levels,” Bradford said.
Test scores place the students in one of five levels: Far below basic, below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced. Subjects tested include English, math, history and science. State officials then compute the percentage of students who achieve basic or above.
“There are some very bright spots in our 2010 data, particularly at the high school level,” Bradford said. “Santa Monica High posted a four-point percentage gain in English language arts. The school’s ninth grade English language arts scores continued to soar, with an eight-point gain over 2009.”
There are significant achievement gap among race groups, although they have narrowed for some of them over time. In English language arts, black and Latino students have gained 25 and 23 percentage points respectively since 2002, compared to gains for white and Asian students of 11 and 15 points. English learners gained 19 percentage points and economically disadvantaged students gained 23 percentage points since 2002. Students with disabilities have made more modest gains of 11 points over this time period. In math, gains for African American and Latino students, English learners and economically disadvantaged students are higher than for the district as a whole.
District officials use the test data to drill down on areas that need work.
“Our work continues as we build a strategic plan centered on narrowing the achievement gap for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, and students with disabilities,” said district Superintendent Tim Cuneo.
The state department of education will use the test results as indicator in two important accountability measures, the Academic Performance Index (API) and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports. These results are designed to help school principals, leadership teams and school site councils craft measurable goals and action plans for the current school year.