Math and English Scores Increase 9th Straight Year

PASADENA—The 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test results marked the ninth straight year California students improved their performance on annual statewide mathematics and English-language arts exams, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced.

Approximately 4.7 million students participated in the 2012 STAR program, with 57 percent scoring proficient or above in English-language arts and 51 percent scoring at proficient or above in mathematics, the highest percentage since the tests were fully aligned in 2003 to California’s content standards, which describe what students should know for each grade and subject tested.

“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two,” Torlakson said. “That’s nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003—a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.

 “Even more remarkable is the fact that our students continue to make gains even as our schools—and the teachers, administrators and school employees working in them—are getting by with so much less,” Torlakson said. “As pleased as I am by the great progress many students are making, the deep school budget cuts of recent years make it ever less likely these gains will continue. Preventing further cuts and beginning to restore what’s been lost are essential to helping every student learn and prepare for the future.”

On the 2012 STAR tests, the percentage of students at or above the proficient level increased by 3 percentage points in English–language arts (Table 1) and 1 percentage point in mathematics (Table 6) over last year.

The percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced level increased by 22 percentage points since 2003 in English-language arts, or from 35 percent to 57 percent (Table 1); and 16 percentage points in mathematics, from 35 percent to 51 percent (Table 6).

Some 54 percent of students taking the Summative High School Mathematics exam, (Table 6) scored proficient or above, or an increase of 11 percentage points since 2003, and 52 percent of students taking the biology exam (Table 13) scored proficient or above, an increase of 15 percentage points in that 10-year period.

While the STAR results show an increase in proficiency levels among all subgroups, a persistent achievement gap exists for African American, Latino, English-learner, and low-income students, compared to their peers.

“Like every teacher, parent, and principal—despite the decade of progress we’ve seen—I won’t be completely satisfied until every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential,” Torlakson said.

The full results can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Web page at Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results.

Under the STAR program, California students attain one of five levels of performance for each subject tested: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic.

The State Board of Education has established the “proficient” level as the desired achievement goal for all students. That level represents a point at which students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by the assessment at a particular grade, in a particular content area. This achievement goal is consistent with school growth targets for state accountability and requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

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California High School Exit Exam Results Shows Growth

95 percent of Students Meet Graduation Requirement

LOS ANGELES—The percentage of students from the Class of 2012 meeting the California High School Exit Examination graduation requirement increased slightly over last year to 95 percent, marking the sixth straight year of improving performance, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

 “When 95 percent of California students are hitting the mark — despite the tremendous challenges we face and the work we still have to do — there’s an awful lot going right in our public schools,” Torlakson said. “I congratulate the students who succeeded on this test, the teachers who provided invaluable instruction, and the parents who gave their support and encouragement.”

The (high school exit exam) is administered each year to ensure that students who graduate from public high schools demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students who do not pass the (test) in Grade 10 have two opportunities in Grade 11 and up to five opportunities in Grade 12 to pass.

Preliminary results for the July, October, November and December 2011 and the February, March and May 2012 test administrations show increased passing rates among most demographic subgroups of students by the end of their senior year. African American and Hispanic students made some of the largest gains.

Overall, about 95 percent, or 424,480 students, in the Class of 2012 successfully passed both the English-language arts and the mathematics portions of the (test) by the end of their senior year. This was an increase of 0.8 of a percentage point over the previous year and an increase of 4.6 percentage points since the Class of 2006, the first class required to pass the (exam).

 “While I’m happy about the progress made by the Class of 2012, I still have concerns for the Class of 2013, the Class of 2014 and all the classes that will follow,” Torlakson said. “We have made solid improvement but schools and districts are facing some unprecedented challenges right now. Overcrowded classrooms, shorter school years and fewer teachers are in store for us unless we stop the cuts to education funding and begin restoring some of what has been cut in recent years.”

Results for the exam, which is one of several state and local graduation requirements for all students, will be provided at the school, district, county and state levels. They will be posted on the (Exit Exam) Summary Results Web page. Individual student  results are confidential.

This year’s overall passing rate did not include students with disabilities who are currently exempt from passing the test to graduate. They are required by state and federal law  to take the exam in Grade 10. Many of the students, however, continue to take the exam. For the Class of 2012, the passing rate for students with disabilities was 55.5 percent compared to 56.3 percent last year and 47.8 percent for the Class of 2006.

Among African Americans, 91.9 percent of the Class of 2012 passed the exam, an increase of 2.3 percentage points over the Class of 2011 and 8.2 percentage points over the Class of 2006.

Hispanic or Latino students of the Class of 2012 had passing rates of 93.1 percent, an increase of 1.4 percentage points over the Class of 2011 and 7.6 points over the Class of 2006.

Asian students passed the test at a rate of 97.8 percent, a 0.7 of a percentage point improvement over last year. White students passed at a rate of 98.6 percent — 0.4 of a percentage point better than last year.

The percentage of students passing the (exam) in the 10th grade, which is the first opportunity they have to take the test, has steadily increased.

Some 83 percent of the Class of 2014 has already passed the English Language arts portion, compared to 82.4 percent of the Class of 2013. In math, the passage rate for first-time test takers in the Class of 2014 was 83.6 percent, compared to 82.7 percent of the Class of 2013.

The gap between Hispanic and white students has narrowed by 12.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014 (who were 10th graders this past school year) for the English Language arts portion of the (exam). For the mathematics portion, the gap between Hispanic and white students has narrowed by 12.9 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014.

Similarly, the gap between African American and white students has narrowed by 7.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014 in English Language arts. In math, the gap between African American and white students has narrowed by 10.5 percentage points from the Class of 2006 to the Class of 2014.



Shelley Davis Speaks at Capitol Hill GEAR UP Briefing

On Tuesday July 24, members of the GEAR UP community held a briefing on capitol hill entitled: GEAR UP: The College Access Program that Drives Education and Economic Success in Your Community. The briefing, hosted by NCCEP, was convened to share success stories and to learn why GEAR UP is widely viewed as the most effective solution for increasing academic achievement, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and economic development in high poverty communities.


Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA‐2)

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (TX‐15)

Lisa Brady Gill, Texas Instruments (invited)

Shelley Davis, Director, California GEAR UP

Hector Garza, Alumnus from Texas Region One ESC GEAR UP

Joshua Sparks, Alumnus from GEAR UP Kentucky

Nathan R. Monell, Executive Director, NCCEP (Moderator)

As one of the featured speakers, California GEAR UP Director Shelley Davis shared the success of GEAR UP in California and also how GEAR UP is addressing the state’s education challenges. Here is an excerpt:

In our state, the challenges for achieving educational equity are unprecedented. Funding for K-12 public schools remains a critical challenge while tuition and fees for postsecondary education continues to rise. The nearly four million students who are Latino or African-American have a 1 in 20 chance of graduating from a California public university. Clearly, our prosperity is dependent on us changing these odds. With an increasingly diverse student population and an ever widening achievement gap, the GEAR UP mandate to serve low-income students in high poverty communities – most of whom are African-American and Latino –positions us to address this challenge 24 hours a day every day.

In California, GEAR UP funds have supported the State grant and over 50 partnership projects since 1999. The California State grant was funded for its third six-year cycle on October 1, 2011. Working in partnership with other college access programs and initiatives, our program goal is: Develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a statewide network of support for adults — counselors, faculty, school leaders and families —who influence middle school students.

We believe that with enhanced organizational capacity, schools will be able to educate all students to the high levels of mastery required for college admission and graduation as well as for the increasingly technological world where the contributions of graduates are needed for both individual and societal benefit.

The briefing included testimony from student alumnus and representatives Fattah and Hinojosa, all sharing the power and impact GEAR UP has and continues to have across the country in creating a college-going culture.

For more information on GEAR UP success stories, check out the GEAR UP Works! blog prepared by NCCEP.