Ghidotti ranks first in state testing |

Ghidotti ranks first in state testing

California’s standardized test results are in — and Ghidotti Early College High School is at the head of the class.

Ghidotti had the state’s highest scores out of 2,033 high schools that administered the exam, which was taken by California students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 last spring to test proficiency in English Language Arts and mathematics.

According to scores released Aug. 24 by the state’s department of education, 100 percent of the 41 Ghidotti students who took the test met or exceeded proficiency standards in English, and 97 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency standards in math.

“I’m really excited for our seniors, and really proud of them,” said Noah Levinson, principal at Ghidotti, which allows high school students to attend classes at Sierra College at no cost. Many students at the school, which opened in 2006, graduate with a high school diploma as well as an associate’s degree or credits toward college.

“I think it just shows a commitment to the school and a commitment to their learning.” — Noah Levinson, Ghidotti Early College High School principal

This past spring was the second year students took the recently-revamped version of the standardized test, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. The test debuted in 2015, replacing the STAR test, to more closely tie into the state’s Common Core standards by favoring analytical problem solving skills over rote memorization.

The test also became computer-based and adaptive, with the computer adjusting the difficulty of questions for individual students based on how well they answered previous questions.

Nevada County’s overall standardized test results weren’t as rosy as Ghidotti’s individual scores. According to the department of education, 52 percent of the nearly 5,000 Nevada County students who took the test met or exceeded proficiency standards in English, while 38 percent of students met or exceeded math standards.

A breakdown of scores by district and schools is available at

Nevada County’s 2016 test scores hovered just above statewide scores. 49 percent of students in California met or exceeded English standards, while 37 percent met or exceeded math standards.

More than 3.2 million students took the test statewide.

Nevada County did display slight gains over last year’s scores. In 2015, 48 percent of the county’s students met or exceeded standards in English, while 36 percent met or exceeded math standards.

“We’re pleased that our scores went up and we’re pleased that we’re above the state average,” said Holly Hermansen, the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.

Hermansen said the improvement of scores in the test’s second year reflects “the fact that teachers in our community are instructing in the [Common Core] standards” and “says a lot about the attention that they’re paying to it and how seriously they’re taking it.”

However, county schools “absolutely have work to do,” Hermansen said. This year’s scores indicate that nearly half of county students are below proficiency in English, and more than half are below proficiency in math.

“We don’t think that’s OK,” Hermansen said. “We want more students who meet or exceed standards.”

Hermansen said her office will spend time analyzing the scores for larger trends, including performance among subgroups such as English learners and low income students. Her office works to identify strengths and weaknesses countywide, and then shares that information with individual school districts, which can use the information to inform curriculum and instruction, or target supports to individual students, Hermansen said.

That’s exactly how the Nevada Joint Union High School District is planning to use its test results. Superintendent Louise Johnson said the district’s test scores will be analyzed by school leadership and staff. The district will continue to work on aligning its curriculum with the state standards, as well as provide teachers with professional development opportunities related to teaching the standards.

She noted that during a professional development day last January, each teacher in the district took a practice standardized test to better understand what skills the test required of students. Teachers have also been setting quarterly achievement benchmarks, and targeting students who may need additional support, Johnson said.

She credits those efforts, among others, for the district’s improvement in standardized test scores in 2016.

Seventy percent of students in the district met or exceeded standards in English, while 43 percent met or exceeded expectations in math. In 2015, 61 percent of students displayed proficiency in English, while 34 percent of students displayed proficiency in math.

While Johnson said the district will continue its efforts toward having all of its students display proficiency on both tests, “I was really favorably impressed with the growth that we had,” she said.

At Ghidotti, Levinson said test results help affirm that the school is adequately preparing students for college and career.

“The test is there to assess whether those kids are ready for life after high school,” he said.

Levinson said the school is planning to celebrate the senior class for its accomplishment.

“I think it’ll be really nice to say to the seniors, hey guys and ladies, you did something that’s incredible,” Levinson said. “I think it just shows a commitment to the school and a commitment to their learning.”

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email or call 530-477-4230.

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