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August 23, 2011 > Test scores show progress

Test scores show progress

Submitted By Rick La Plante

More New Haven Unified School District students are "advanced" and fewer are "far below basic" according to results of standardized tests taken during the 2010-11 school year.

According to STAR (Standardized Testing and Results) information released today by the California Department of Education, 25.1 percent of New Haven students scored "advanced" in English/language arts, up from 22.3 percent in 2008-09. Over the same three-year period, the percentage of students scoring "far below basic" has decreased from 7.2 to 6.3 percent.

"These scores demonstrate progress at both ends of the spectrum, even with all of the problems that have been forced upon us as our budget shrinks because of the state financial crisis," Superintendent Kari McVeigh said, "Our students, their parents and our teachers and support staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their hard work and perseverance."

At Emanuele Elementary School, 23.1 percent of students scored "advanced" in English/language arts, up from 15.5 percent in 2008-09. Meanwhile, the percentage of students scoring "far below basic" has dropped from 11.4 to 7.8 percent.

At Alvarado Elementary School, 26.9 percent of students scored "advanced," up from 18.6 percent in 2008-09. At James Logan High School, meanwhile, the percentage of students scoring "far below basic" dropped from 11.7 to 9.6 percent.

District-wide, the percentage of students scoring at or above standards in English/language arts on the California Standards Test - the predominant part of the STAR program - increased to 55 percent, up from 54 percent in 2009-10.

"Year after year, our concentrated focus on literacy is resulting in steady improvement," Superintendent McVeigh said. "It's incremental, but it's consistent, which I think is indicative of the fact we're doing the right work."

In ninth grade, 60 percent of students scored at or above standards in English/language arts on the CST, up from 54 percent last year.

The percentage of students scoring at or above standards in math decreased from 47 percent to 45 percent, but the decline actually was anticipated, Director of Assessment and Evaluation Craig Boyan noted, because the District increased access to advanced math courses at the secondary level, meaning more students moved beyond general math into algebra and geometry.

"For example, almost twice as many students in Grade 8 took algebra than in the prior year, and about half as many took general math," Mr. Boyan said. "Advancing these students to higher levels of math may initially result in some lower scores in the general math courses, which should improve as adjustments are made in future years."

Mr. Boyan also noted that CST scores should be evaluated with caution.

"Current research has shown that the CSTs are of varying degrees of difficulty (from grade to grade or from course to course)," he said. "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 9,900 New Haven students took the STAR tests during April and May of 2011. 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. 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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