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August 24, 2010 > New Haven test scores rise

New Haven test scores rise

Submitted By Rick La Plante

A remarkable rise in science scores at New Haven Unified elementary schools highlights the District's performance on standardized tests taken during the 2009-10 school year, according to results recently made available.

Scores in both English/language arts and mathematics also continue to rise district-wide, according to Standardized Testing and Results (STAR) information released by the California Department of Education. History scores throughout the District also improved.

"These scores demonstrate once again that focusing on literacy, the way we have in New Haven for the past few years, is the right strategy for improving student performance in all areas," Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. "Our students, their parents, our teachers and support staff all deserve congratulations for our continued improvement, and we're looking forward to an even better year when school starts September 1."

District-wide, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in Grade 5 science on the California Standards Test - the predominant part of the STAR program - increased from 56.3 percent in 2008-09 to 71.2 percent in 2009-10. There were huge gains at Hillview Crest Elementary (from 31.5 percent to 64.8 percent) and Eastin Elementary (from 59.5 percent to 83.8 percent), as well as at Searles (44.6 percent to 60.2 percent), Alvarado (60.3 percent to 75.3 percent), and Pioneer (65.4 percent to 78.7 percent). Scores also rose at Kitayama (61.7 percent to 68.9 percent) and Emanuele (60.4 percent to 64.1 percent).

Hillview Crest also showed impressive improvement in both math and English/language arts at all grade levels, second through fifth. In math, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards - in other words, proficient or advanced - increased from 52 percent in 2008-09 to 66.7 percent in 2009-10. In English/language arts, the percentage increased from 42.1 percent to 46.4 percent.

At Eastin the percentage of students scoring at or above standards increased from 79.6 percent to 84.5 percent in math, and from 73.1 percent to 77.7 percent in English/language arts. At Alvarado the percentage of students scoring at or above standards increased from 66.2 percent to 71 percent in math, and from 57.6 percent to 58.4 percent in English/language arts. At Emanuele the percentage of students scoring at or above standards increased from 57.5 percent to 60.2 percent in math, and from 43.8 percent to 45.2 percent in English/language arts.

The percentage of students scoring at or above standards in math also increased at both Searles (44 percent to 50.7 percent) and Pioneer (73.9 percent to 75.4 percent).

Eighth-graders shined at the District's two middle schools, Alvarado and Cesar Chavez, where 61 percent scored at or above standards in English/language arts, up from 52 percent in 2008-09, and 52 percent scored at or above standards in history, up from 41 percent. District eighth-graders also set a new standard in science, with 67 percent scoring at or above standards.

Adding sixth- and seventh-graders, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in English/language arts increased from 64.8 percent to 67.2 percent at Alvarado Middle and from 46.9 percent to 48.7 percent at Cesar Chavez.

History and science improvement also was evident at James Logan High School, where the percentage of students scoring at or above standards reached new highs in both world history (43 percent) and physics (77 percent).

District-wide, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in English/language arts improved from 53.3 to 54 percent, and the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in math jumped from 46.2 percent to 47.3 percent.

Some scores decreased, Ms. McVeigh acknowledged, "but most of the decreases were very slight." At Logan, for example, math and English/language arts scores were down by less than 1 percent each.

"We also continue to see some progress in closing the achievement gap," the Superintendent said. African-American students showed more improvement than the District as a whole in English/language arts. And in both English/language arts and math, socio-economically disadvantaged students and special education students both showed more improvement than the District as a whole.

District Director of Assessment and Evaluation Craig Boyan noted that California Standards Tests (CST) scores should be evaluated with caution.

"Current research has shown that the CSTs are of varying degrees of difficulty," Mr. Boyan said. "For example, the Grade 3 English/language arts test is more difficult than the Grade 4 English/language arts test. Therefore, caution should be used in using CST scores to compare the effectiveness of instruction programs from one grade level or course to another."

Approximately 9,700 New Haven students took the STAR tests during April and May of 2010. Most students took the CSTs, which measure progress based on state curriculum content standards that are among the highest in the United States. Smaller numbers of students with special needs took one of two alternate assessments: the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) and the California Modified Assessment (CMA).

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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