PUSD students do well on STAR tests
By Pat Kumpan
Standardized test results released Friday indicate that Poway Unified School District students continue to make improvements, surpassing the state average in advanced and proficient English scores, as well as math scores at most grade levels.
The results come from the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests taken in May by California students in grades two through 11 in math, language arts, science and social studies. STAR results help determine each school’s Academic Performance Index (API), which is considered crucial to federal reporting of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.
STAR scores fall into five ranges: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic.
“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “That’s nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003 – a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.”
“Overall, across the board we’re really pleased with this year’s STAR test scores,” said Eric Lehew, Poway Unified’s executive director of Learning Support Services. “The test scores especially in elementary and middle schools are up.”
An estimated 80 percent of district students passed English tests, surpassing the state average of 52.7 percent.
“Our goal is to ensure that every student is proficient in all subjects, which means they have mastered the subject matter,” Lehew added.
Districtwide math results are up as well. One of the most remarkable gains, he said, came from Valley Elementary, which this year had 73 percent proficient scores for fourth graders, up from 47 percent at that grade level last year, along with noticeable improvements at Valley’s other grade levels.
What those results indicate is that “teachers are teaming up and working together,” indicative of a movement at Valley and other schools, Lehew addd.
Earlier this week, prior to the release of the STAR results, Valley Principal Andrew Johnsen said teachers at his school made a collaborative effort for most of the year to improve math scores.
“Everyone here has a strength,” Johnsen said. “Teachers team up with students because we want students to be able to explain the subject.”
Meanwhile, the district continues its focus on finding ways to see Algebra 1 scores among eighth graders improve, considering algebra a major stepping stone to higher levels of math.
Results of that effort are paying off with eighth grade Algebra scores up this year, 20 percent at the advanced level, compared to 16 percent last year, with 41 percent at the proficient level this year, down slightly from 42 percent for the past two years. Roughly 1,600 district students have now moved on to geometry, according to Lehew.
For more test results, go online to: dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest.
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