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August 26, 2009 > New Haven Schools test scores continue to rise

New Haven Schools test scores continue to rise

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Scores improved at every grade level and in every subject at Kitayama Elementary School, and there were double-digit gains at multiple grade levels at Kitayama and four other New Haven Unified District schools, according to results made available today from standardized tests taken in 2008-09.

Alvarado Elementary, Emanuele Elementary, Pioneer Elementary and Alvarado Middle School also had double-digit gains at multiple-grade levels, according to Standardized Testing and Results (STAR) information released by the California Department of Education.

Across the District, English Learners and both African-American and Hispanic students shared the District's growth on the English/language arts portion of the California Standards Tests, the predominant part of the STAR program. Special education students made impressive gains in both English/language arts and math.

"District-wide, while our scores improved most in the English/language arts portion of the test, they also improved in mathematics, science and history," New Haven Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. "That reinforces our belief that focusing on literacy the way we have in the past couple of years not only is the right work, but that it also is the way to improve student performance in all areas."

District-wide, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in English/language arts increased at nine of the 10 grade levels tested. The improvement was most impressive at seventh grade, where the percentage of students scoring at or above standards rose 10 points, from 51 percent in 2007-08 to 61 percent in 2008-09. The percentage of students at or above standards is highest at fourth grade, 63 percent.

District-wide in mathematics, the percentage of students at or above standards is highest at second and third grades, 66 percent each.

Individual school improvement was most impressive at Kitayama. There, the percentage of fifth-graders at or above standards in English/language arts jumped 15 points, to 70 percent, and the percentage of fourth-graders at or above standards in math rose 11 points, to 82 percent. Scores also improved, by between 4 and 8 points, in second, third and fourth grade English/Language Arts, in second, third and fifth grade math, and in fifth grade science.

"With all of the variables involved in testing, to improve at all four grade levels and in all three subjects is outstanding. The entire Kitayama community deserves congratulations," Chief Academic Officer Wendy Gudalewicz said.

"In her first year as a principal, Lisa Metzinger did an amazing job, and the teachers made certain their classrooms were filled with rigor and relevance," Ms. Gudalewicz said. "The classified staff at Kitayama does a wonderful job of supporting the teachers, the parents are engaged and involved, and the students obviously worked hard to do
their best."

The most impressive single grade-level improvement in the District was that recorded in the fifth grade at Alvarado Elementary, where the percentage of students at or above standards in math increased by 24 points, from 41 percent in 2007-08 to 65 percent in 2008-09. Alvarado fifth-graders also improved by 11 points in science, to 60 percent, and
by 10 points in English/Language Arts, to 61 percent.

There also were hefty gains at Emanuele and Pioneer. The percentage of Emanuele fifth-graders scoring at or above standards in science jumped 17 points, to 61 percent, and the percentage of second-graders at or above standards improved by 16 points in English/Language Arts, to 46 percent, and 14 points in math, to 63 percent.

At Pioneer, the percentage of third-graders at or above standards in English/Language Arts jumped 18 points, to 60 percent, and fifth-graders improved by 11 points in both math and science, to 70 and 67 percent, respectively.

At Alvarado Middle School, seventh-graders showed large gains. The percentage of students at or above standards in English/Language Arts jumped 16 points, to 71 percent, and the percentage at or above standards in math went up 10 points, to 45 percent.

The District has asked the California Department of Education to establish new baseline scores at Cesar Chavez Middle School, because of the significant shift in enrollment following the June 2008 closure of Barnard-White Middle School.

Eastin Elementary remains the District's highest-scoring school. A remarkable 91 percent of Eastin third-graders are at or above standards in math, the highest score in any grade or subject in the District.

District-wide, the percentage of special education students who scored at or above standards in English/Language Arts improved by 10 points, from 13 percent in 2007-08 to 23 percent in 2008-09. In math, the percentage of special education students at or above standards went up 7 points, to 26 percent.

"Although some gains may have been related to a new test for measuring achievement of disabled students, the District is now producing consistent, positive results, especially in the focus area of literacy," Director of Assessment and Evaluation Craig Boyan said.

Approximately 10,000 New Haven students took the STAR tests during April and May of 2009. Most students took the California Standards Tests (CSTs), which measure progress based on state curriculum content standards that are among the highest in the United States. Some disabled students took alternative assessments.

STAR scores also help determine the state's Academic Performance Index (API) rankings and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals that will be released in September.

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