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Students gain on state test

California students made gains on the state’s standardized tests last spring, but Nevada County educators said Monday they’re waiting until October to determine just how well their schools improved scores on tests administered to students in grades two through 11.

That’s when the state is expected to release results of the Academic Performance Index, which outlines how schools improved their performance over the previous year and if the improvement merits each school cash awards.

According to results released by the California Department of Education, students made gains on the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years.



The results of the California State High School Exit Exam were also released Monday. The Nevada Joint Union High School District’s results outpaced the state’s – an encouraging sign, said Superintendent Maggie Deetz.

Ninety percent of high school district students who took the test passed it, compared to a 74 percent pass rate in math and a 75 percent pass rate in English/language arts statewide, according to CDE statistics.




The high school exam is first given to 10th-grade students, who have a number of opportunities thereafter to pass the exam before graduation.

A majority of Nevada County high school students taking the statewide standards exam also tested above the state average in English language arts, but below basic standards in mathematics. And while a majority of local students scored above the proficiency level in biology, chemistry and earth science, a majority of them scored below state levels in physics and integrated science on the statewide test.

The results will serve as a primer for teachers as they prepare lessons for the 2004-05 school year, which for most school districts begins Wednesday.

To help them work on state standards, teachers will be given software with curriculum to track each student’s progress, Deetz said.

Ready Springs Union Elementary School District in Penn Valley and the San Juan Ridge-area Twin Ridges Elementary School District posted some of the lowest scores of proficient students in Nevada County, though county Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer said the full measure of Nevada County’s improvements probably won’t be known until the API results are released.

The Academic Performance Index rates each school’s scores on a 1,000-point scale, a score derived from each school’s performance on the state standardized tests. The state has set a performance target of 800 for every school. Schools receive cash awards based on their improvement over the previous year.

James Meshwert, superintendent of the Pleasant Ridge Union School District, said his staff is already analyzing the data the STAR test to help students improve their scores.

“We need to make adjustments to make sure our children are reaching their potential,” he said.

Generally, the majority of the 1,728 district students who took the test scored above the state average in English and mathematics, according to the results.

The results, McAteer said, often don’t test a student’s full breadth of knowledge.

“I think people need to balance their judgments of test scores with things that cannot be measured on a test,” McAteer said, noting the test doesn’t measure students’ ability to write clearly or gauge their appreciation for the visual arts.

On the Net

For a district-by-district breakdown of results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program and the California High School Exit Exam, visit:

http://www.cde.ca.gov


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