CA test scores: Despite some lower numbers, school district lauds success over past half-decade | SierraSun.com

CA test scores: Despite some lower numbers, school district lauds success over past half-decade

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun
Courtesy of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School DistrThe above graph represents 2010 California Standards Testing scores from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, compared with the district's scores from 2005.
ALL |

TRUCKEE/TAHOE and#8212; The numbers are in, but the verdict is out as school district officials continue analyzing 2009-10 California Standards Testing data, with initial evaluations showing a slight decline from the 2008-09 school year but huge gains compared to 2004-05.

Steve Jennings, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District superintendent, said the evaluation of CST testing, an assessment given each spring to grades 2-11 on multiple subjects, shouldn’t focus on any one year, but what transpires over a number of years.

and#8220;I’m reluctant to overreact to any one-year growth or decline,and#8221; Jennings said. and#8220;These results show us some very specific targets that we need to address, which we are focusing on now, but overall we are pleased to see a trend of growth in the last five years.and#8221;

Looking from a long-term perspective, Jennings said the district once had one of the largest achievement gaps in the state between high-scoring native English speakers and lower-scoring English learners.

This year’s scores, Jennings said, are proof the gap has been narrowed, and efforts dedicated toward lower achieving students has paid off. Some positive statistics, Jennings said, are the ones that show the increase in the percent of students scoring at or above proficiency between 2005 and 2010 and#8212; 11 percent for English-only students, 50 percent for English-learner students and 122 percent for English learners who have been redesignated as English proficient students.

Another sign of progress, he said, is many of the redesignated students have moved out of the below-basic scoring category, with the percentage of redesignated students dropping by 67 percent compared to 2004-05.

An additional statistic Jennings points to is the growth in the number of students who have gone from English learners to fluent English proficient students. Redesignated students in this group have grown from 78 students to 219 since the 2004-05 school year and#8212; a 180 percent increase.

Despite positive growth trends which reflect scores steadily rising for the eighth straight year, Jennings said district officials are disappointed and#8212; but not surprised and#8212; by the decrease in performance from last year.

and#8220;Normally, you see a dip any time you have transitions, and we had several last year,and#8221; Jennings said.

Among the many transitions was the controversial reconfiguration which turned North Tahoe and Kings Beach elementary schools into K-3 schools with Kings Beach turning into a two-way immersion-only school and#8212; fourth graders attending North Tahoe Middle School as a 4-8 site.

Other than transitions, Jennings said there were funds allocated to district’s educational model that did not get implemented until mid-year, and the ongoing state fiscal crisis resulting in nearly $3.8 million in budget cuts added to the strain.

and#8220;In contrast, we are starting this year fully staffed, settled in and ready to zero in on our challenges,and#8221; he said.

Dave Curry, director of education services, said the district is just beginning to analyze data and plans to meet with staff, teachers and parents as it is collected and reviewed.

and#8220;It’s imperative to dive deeper than the raw data, and examine curricular areas, grade levels and subgroups, so that we can analyze individual student progress,and#8221; he said. and#8220;… there are some groups and levels with positive gains and others that obviously need to be addressed.and#8221;

A full presentation is expected at the school board’s Sept. 15 workshop.