The California Department of Education (CDE) released scores today for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), aggregated by school, district, county and the state level.
Results for Kern County students continue to improve, with 40 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards this year in English Language Arts (ELA) up from 38 percent in 2016 and 33 percent in 2015. In math, 27 percent of students met or exceeded the standards this year, up from 25 percent in 2015 and 23 percent in 2015. Outside of those students who met or exceeded the standards this year, a large contingent of students nearly met the standards — 25 percent in ELA and 28 percent in math.
CAASPP is an online assessment that students in grades 3-8 and 11 take each spring, based on California’s challenging academic standards. Students are asked to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems just as they will need to do in college and career. CAASPP replaced California’s former standardized assessment program in 2015.
Because of the more rigorous nature of the new California State Standards the CAASPP is assessing, educators knew that students would likely need to make significant progress to met the standards when the new testing program was rolled out in 2015. Results over the last three years are not necessarily surprising, according to Lisa Gilbert, assistant superintendent of instructional services at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office (KCSOS).
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction,” Gilbert said. “The progress we have seen to date shows that the hard work and of our local educators, parents and students is paying off.”
A number of factors may be attributed to the rise in test scores, including an extra year of teaching the California State Standards, more familiarity with taking tests online and the availability of results from previous years, which allow teachers to efficiently adjust instruction to meet student needs.
Of concern, though, is the fact that while gains have been seen across every student group, there is a continuing achievement gap, evidenced by data that shows significantly lower scores among students from low-income families and within some student groups. As an example, 33 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged met or exceeded standards in ELA compared to 59 percent of students who are not economically disadvantaged. Further, 36 percent of Hispanic students and 26 percent of African American students met or exceeded standards in ELA compared to 49 percent of White students and 64 percent of Asian students.
“Narrowing this achievement gap remains our priority,” Gilbert said.
To this end, KCSOS has redoubled its efforts to support Kern County’s 47 school districts and is engaged in a genuine dialogue with school district teams about current performance, existing barriers and possible solutions. KCSOS’s renewed model of support includes helping districts evaluate data and identifying gaps in student outcomes, illuminating district priorities, and providing resources and support for district initiatives including professional learning and the development of collegial networks where superintendents, principals, and instructional coaches share best practices.