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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