The results are in: Nevada Joint Union High School District receives test results in English, math | TheUnion.com

The results are in: Nevada Joint Union High School District receives test results in English, math

Area high school district scores are down over last year, but remain above California's average results.

Nevada Joint Union High School District received its statewide testing data this month when the California Assessment for Student Performance and Progress test scores were released.

The tests are administered every year to third through eighth graders as well as 11th graders. Because of this schedule, only 11th graders in the Nevada Joint Union district take the test.

"This series of assessments falls in the areas of math and English language arts," said Nevada Union district assistant superintendent Dan Frisella. "And each of those two tests has different components: a computer test and a performance test."

The 2017-18 test results revealed that of the district's 619 high school juniors, nearly 62 percent met or exceeded the standard in English language arts, down from a 68 percent score in 2016-17. Likewise, 36 percent met standards in math, whereas last year that number was tallied at 32 percent.

Statewide scores came in at about 56 and 31 percent, respectively.

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Ghidotti Early College High School ranked number one out of 2,017 California public high schools. For the fourth year in a row, all of the school's 44 students who took the tests met or exceeded the standard for English language arts, and just over 93 percent met or exceeded the standard in math.

Meanwhile, Silver Springs High School's test scores saw a significant drop since the 2016-17 school year. This year, 6 percent of juniors met or exceeded English standards, a drop from nearly 19 percent last year. None met or exceeded math standards in either year at the continuation school.

For Bear River juniors, 65 percent met or exceeded English standards versus nearly 68 percent of juniors at Nevada Union. Bear River's math scores sit at over 33 percent while Nevada Union jumped to nearly 41 percent.

Nevada Joint Union Superintendent Brett McFadden said one of the biggest challenges of the tests is the fact that the exams are slightly altered each year, providing an element of moving the goal posts.

"You talk to other superintendents and they will tell you the same thing," said McFadden. "The standards came into place in 2014, then it took almost two years for the state to develop its evaluation system for the students. So there's a significant discrepancy between what is the test going to look like (and) what we are going to test on. They were building the airplane, while it was in flight."

McFadden said the district is held responsible for academic growth, and could be subject to sanctions and greater scrutiny from county and state officials if test scores continue to fall.

Something to build on

Students are also aware that the testing doesn't have an impact on personal grades. Students can choose to opt out of the testing. Doing so results in a zero score which brings down the school and district wide average.

"The test doesn't mean anything to the students, so there is a motivational factor that decreases," Frisella said. "It's not the high school exit exam, where you have to pass the test to earn your diploma, so there is not much riding on it (for students)."

Frisella added that the only potential motivator for the high school juniors is that by participating in the testing, students are granted an early assessment into the California State University system. Those who exceed the standards won't need remediation and can proceed with their Cal State enrollment.

Administrators are concerned with what they called a "significant" drop in scores on this year's tests. However, their overlying concern regarding some of the inconsistencies of the testing leaves them to ponder what they can do to ensure better overall performances in coming years.

"Based on what the state is asking us to teach according to standards, there is a high percentage of students who get to the test and haven't been taught those subject areas yet," McFadden said.

He added the data is helpful, but it's important not to over- or under-react.

"I think what we have put in place in the last couple years — in terms of greater focus on intervention services, continued professional development of our teachers and staff, greater alignment with our curriculum — I think those are core fundamental things that are good and so I think what we need to do is continue to build on that," McFadden said.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.