Davis students by and large did well on last spring’s annual round of STAR tests, according to results released today by the California Department of Education.
Across the district, “in English language arts, Davis students demonstrated a slight gain in almost every grade level,” said Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant of the Davis school district. “The percent of students scoring (in the) ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ (categories) ranged from a low of 66 percent in third grade to a high of 84 percent in fourth grade.
“In mathematics, there was at least a slight increase at every grade level where a specific grade-level assessment is given,” Bryant continued. “The percent of students scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ in mathematics ranged from a low of 75 percent in seventh grade to a high of 81 percent in fourth grade.
“At individual sites around the district, several grades had 85 percent or higher of their students performing (at the) ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ (level),” Bryant said. “Some sites even reached into the 90 percent range.”
The STAR (Standardized Testing And Reporting) tests are administered in the spring, and scored over the summer, with school districts receiving the results in August. In addition to English language arts and mathematics — for which students are tested at every grade level from second through 11th grades — students also are tested at certain grade levels for social science, history and science. Students are ranked “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic,” “below basic” or “far below basic.”
In Davis, the percentage of students ranking “below basic” or “far below basic” were in the single digits. Some 10 to 21 percent of students (varying by grade level) scored in the “basic” category on math and English language arts.
Bryant will review the test results at a Davis school board meeting in September.
“Our teachers, support staff and administrators continue to place student learning first, despite the challenges that have been brought on by the state fiscal crisis,” Bryant said. “We also appreciate the immeasurable support and dedication of our community to keep our school strong learning communities where children continue to grow and thrive.”
The STAR tests results are a major component of the state’s annual Academic Performance Index rankings. In recent years, all of the regular campuses in the Davis school district have earned an API ranking of 800 or higher — the point at which the California Department of Education considers them “high-performing schools.”
Statewide figures from the STAR test results showed California students improved their performance for the ninth consecutive year, according to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Statewide, 57 percent of students scored as “proficient” or “advanced” in English language arts, and 51 percent of students scored as “proficient” or “advanced” in math.
“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score ‘proficient,’ to better than one student in two,” Torlakson said. He noted that “our students continue to make gains even as our schools are getting by with so much less” due to state budget cuts for education.
The next set of figures from the California Department of Education is expected in early October — the Adequate Yearly Progress rankings, based on the much-criticized federal No Child Left Behind legislation, passed in 2001 under then-President George W. Bush. No Child Left Behind established escalating benchmarks that culminate in an expectation of 100 percent student proficiency in math and English language arts by 2013-14, a lofty but likely unrealistic goal.
This year’s benchmark under NCLB requires that 78.4 percent of students be proficient, or higher, in English language arts and 79 percent of students reach that level in math.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or (530) 747-8055.