Wednesday, August 16, 2006

California Star Test Results and NAEP

Reports on test scores
Good news. The State Schools supt. Reports that school test scores have improved.
Also. See below.
Glendale/San Francisco — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today released results of the 2006 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program that show California students remain on a steady trajectory of improved student achievement.
Forty-two percent of students statewide scored at the proficient or advanced level in English-language arts, an increase of 2 percentage points over last year, and 40 percent of students scored at the proficient or advanced level in mathematics, an increase of 2 percentage points over last year.
Since 2003 when all state tests were completely aligned to state standards for the first time, the number of California students who scored proficient and above in English-language arts has grown by 7 percentage points, and the number of students who scored proficient or above in mathematics grew by 5 percentage points.
"I am extremely pleased that these results show that California’s public school students continue to make steady gains in nearly every subject and grade level," O’Connell said. "Since our state adopted rigorous standards for what every student should learn in every grade, and began systematically integrating those standards into classroom materials and instruction, student achievement has continued to improve.
"While movement from year to year is certainly worth noting and analyzing, the real test of sustainable academic achievement is steady gains over multiple years. At this point in California’s transition to a standards-based assessment system, it is worth stopping and taking note of our struggles and success. It is now clear that after almost 10 years of standards based reform, including four years of complete alignment between our standards and our tests, education in California is clearly making meaningful, sustained improvement. There is no doubt we still have a lot of work to do, and no one should be satisfied with our current position, but reforming an entire education system is slow, difficult work. Yet thanks to the hard work of our students, teachers, and administrators, more students than ever before are being prepared with skills and knowledge essential to their future success in our competitive global economy. This improvement deserves recognition and celebration."
Noteworthy gains were made this year in many areas, including mathematics, where 23 percent of students statewide scored at the proficient and advanced level in Algebra 1, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year. In addition, 25,714 more students took Algebra I in 2006 than in 2005. Second through fourth graders also made steady gains in math with scores ranging from 54 to 59 percent at proficient and above. The greatest gains in English-language arts came in grade two, where 47 percent of students scored at the proficient and advanced levels, and in grade three, where 36 percent scored at that level – marking a 5 percentage points increase over last year for each grade.
Each ethnic and socioeconomic subgroup of students has also shown steady improvement over the four years since the tests became standards-aligned. However, the achievement gap persists between African American students, Latino students, or socio-economically disadvantaged students and their white or Asian peers.
"I remain deeply concerned that the achievement gap continues to be unacceptably wide," O’Connell said. "The academic achievement of our Latino, African American, and socio-economically disadvantaged students lags far behind the rest of their peers. We are working to address this problem by providing struggling schools extra resources and additional interventions, and with better training for teachers. But clearly, we must work harder, faster, and with more focus to narrow this gap and to permanently close it. This will be my top priority as I start my second term as Superintendent."
The above is certainly good news. However, we must ask, if state scores are improving, why are not the scores improving signigicantly on the national test, the NAEP?
The National Assessment of Educational Progress. (NAEP)
Report. On-line.

“In 2005, the average scale score for fourth-grade students in
California was 207. This was not significantly different from1 their
average score in 2003 (206), and was higher than their average
score in 1992 (202).
California's average score (207) in 2005 was lower than that of the
Nation's public schools (217).
Of the 52 states and other jurisdictions2 that participated in the
2005 fourth-grade assessment, students' average scale scores in
California were higher than those in 1 jurisdiction, not significantly
different from those in 6 jurisdictions, and lower than those in 44
The percentage of students in California who performed at or
above the NAEP Proficient level was 21 percent in 2005. This
percentage was not significantly different from that in 2003 (21
percent), and was not significantly different from that in 1992 (19
The percentage of students in California who performed at or
above the NAEP Basic level was 50 percent in 2005. This
percentage was not significantly different from that in 2003 (50
percent), and was not significantly different from that in 1992 (48

From the available data we can conclude:
On the state STAR tests, closely tied to the state standards and the state textbooks, students are making modest progress.
However, if the question is, Do students read better? Or do they know math better?
If students read better, they should achieve at a higher rate on any respectable reading test- not only the test that precisely matches the words selected on the test. Here NAEP scores are important.
There has been no significant change in reading and math scores on the NAEP.
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