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County test scores second across state

Nevada County’s schools are still second only to one: Marin County.

Statewide test scores released Thursday morning by the state Department of Education show that Nevada County students scored nearly as high on the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting Program) test as those in the wealthy Bay Area county.

“We should,” Stan Miller, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office, said about the scores. “It would be ‘shame on us’ if we didn’t.”



STAR results for each student in language arts and math are summed up in five categories: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic. Most of Nevada County’s students are either advanced or proficient. The state education board’s goal is that students be at least proficient.

Nevada County’s scores were close to their “competing” counties,” Placer and El Dorado, Miller said.




High test scores are often tied to wealth, which would explain Marin’s high test scores, he noted. But in Nevada County, other factors influence students’ test scores.

“We know our families value education enormously, and that kids have enriched home lives,” he said.

County schools aren’t hurting for teachers either, Miller noted.

Nevada County also benefits from the high number of students for whom English is a first language, which is unusual for California, Miller said.

There are 50 English-language learners in the Grass Valley School District, “which is high for this county, but low for the state,” said Jon Byerrum, superintendent of the Grass Valley School District. “It’s one of the peculiarities of our county.”

Schools in Marysville and Yuba City “just 20 miles away have students who speak 20 languages,” Miller said.

Byerrum said that overall, his district’s test scores rose this year, especially in math.

No scores are reported in categories where fewer than 10 students were tested. For instance, in Nevada County, scores appear for only one class at small Vantage Point Charter in the Ready Springs District: 15 fourth-graders were tested. No scores appear separately for Highland Oaks School, a 60-student, K-5 in the Union Hill School District.

The scores are not final and may be revised, the state’s Web site states.

The one-number scores which rank schools and their districts – the Academic Performance Index, or API – are derived from STAR scores and scheduled to be released in October or November.

STAR test in brief

California students took the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test in the spring.

Nevada County school district superintendents received boxes of the test results before the end of this month. School districts then mailed the results to parents.

The California Department of Education released the results on its Web site at 10 a.m. Thursday.

A 1997 state law requires that all public school districts use a single standardized test to test each student in grades two through 11 in reading, spelling, written expression and mathematics. Students in grades nine through 11 are tested in reading, writing, mathematics, history-social science and science.

The current results are from the sixth year of testing.

STAR test results are used to develop the Academic Performance Index, in which districts are ranked from one to 10. The API scores are scheduled to be released in October or November, state education officials said Thursday.

The 2002 STAR results are available online at

Excerpt of STAR test scores

The Standardized Testing and Reporting program – or STAR tests – results in dozens of figures for second through 11th grades in California schools. Below is an excerpt of test scores for ninth-grade students in general mathematics:

COUNTY Marin Nevada Placer El Dorado

Percentage of students

with proficient and

advanced scores: 43 % 42 % 34 % 31 %

Extremes in Nevada County:

Vantage Point Charter School fourth-graders’ test scores in math:

advanced 0 %

proficient 27 %

basic 55 %

far below basic 18 %

Chicago Park Elementary School sixth-graders’ scores in math:

advanced 45 %

proficient 18 %

basic 27 %

below basic 9 %

far below basic 0 %

Ninth-graders’ general math scores:

Nevada County high school students Statewide

advanced 0% 0%

proficient 14% 10%

basic 48% 31%

below basic 28% 41%

far below basic 9% 18%

Source: California Department of Education Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/star


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