Saturday, August 16, 2008

California Star Test Results

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Releases 2008 STAR Program Results Showing California Students Continue to Improve
LOS ANGELES/SAN JOSE — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today released the results of the 2008 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program that show California students continue to make steady gains in English-language arts, math, science, and social science.

"California public school students are continuing to make solid, steady progress learning the skills and concepts necessary for success in school and in life. Since 2003, 532,494 more California students have become proficient in English-language arts and 415,129 more students have become proficient in math. While we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal of universal proficiency, this year's gains are particularly encouraging considering they build upon five years of steady growth," O'Connell said.

"The results also show significant increases in science and social science. California has some of the highest standards in the nation, and I am exceptionally proud of the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and parents that led to this achievement," he said.

The STAR results may be found at: Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results.

In the six years since all California Standards Tests (CSTs) were completely aligned to state standards, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced increased by 11 points in English-language arts (ELA) or from 35 percent to 46 percent, (Table 1) and 8 points in math, from 35 percent to 43 percent (Table 5). The percentage of students scoring at the proficient and advanced levels on the fifth grade science test has increased by 22 points since 2004; the first year the test was given (Table 10).

The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in grades two, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine have increased in ELA by double digits over the five-year span beginning in 2003 (Table 1).

The greatest improvement over the five-year period for math was made by students in grades three, four, five, six, and seven with the proficient and advanced percentage increasing by 15, 16, 16, 10, and 11 points, respectively (Table 5).

"While we celebrate the progress made by all subgroups of students over the last five years, we can not lose sight of the fact that more than half of our students, and too many students of color, are still not meeting our high standards," O'Connell said. "It is good news that all students continue to improve. It is imperative that we help those students who have historically struggled the most to accelerate their learning so they may effectively and fully participate in school, the workforce, and in society."

All student subgroup populations have continued to improve since 2003, and the gap in achievement between African Americans and whites and the gap in achievement between Hispanics or Latinos and whites narrowed slightly since last year. But, overall proficiency rates for Latino and African American students were significantly lower than those of white or Asian students. (Table 14 and Table 15).

Particularly concerning are results that continue to show African American and Latino students who are not economically disadvantaged score lower in math than white students who are economically disadvantaged. (Table 8 and Table 9). In English-language arts, non-poor African American students scored at the same level as white students who are poor. Latino students who are not poor scored slightly higher than white students who are poor. (Table 3 and Table 4).

"It is a moral and economic imperative that we close the achievement gap. California cannot afford to allow our Latino students and our African American students to continue to lag academically behind their peers," O'Connell said.

"While we must close the gap that exists between all subgroups, I am acutely concerned about our African American students. African American students as a whole scored in English-language arts just one point above Latino students, a subgroup that includes a significant number of English learners. This, coupled with an alarming dropout rate among African Americans, indicates a crisis in the education of black children," he said. "My statewide P-16 Council has made a series of recommendations aimed at closing the achievement gap and improving the way we provide education services to African American students. We must redouble our efforts to find and share effective strategies that will help African American students succeed."

Note: while STAR test results continue to improve, national test results for California on the NAEP do not show improvement.
These test results are useful for district level management. They provide very little useful information for teachers.
This kind of test results primarily uses blame and shame as a strategy. Teachers working in low income and minority schools are blamed and shamed. Teachers working in high income schools are glad that they are not included in the blame. It does little or nothing to improve instruction.
To improve instruction test scores would need to be frequent and feedback provided during the teaching year.
And, teachers would need useful inservice on how to improve the scores.
On the other hand, the test results continue to indicate that the legislature and the governor have failed to adequately fund school improvement efforts. Current budget cuts will make matters worse,
Duane Campbell
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