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Lodi Unified test scores improve, though English still lags behind state averages

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Posted: Monday, August 16, 2010 2:58 pm | Updated: 5:51 am, Wed Aug 18, 2010.

More than half of the students in Lodi Unified schools continue to meet or exceed grade-level math standards, according to standardized test results released Monday.

While the scores show a continued improvement over the last three years, only 45 percent of the district’s students have met grade-level English-language arts standards.

On average, local students’ scores in English remain significantly lower than their peers across the state.

Despite that, Ed Eldridge, the district’s coordinator for assessment, research and evaluation, is pleased with the progress.

“We are encouraged by the fact that our district has made steady gains in English language arts, grade level mathematics, grade level science, and history social science for the past three years,” he said.

The annual tests evaluate secondthrough 11th-graders on various subjects, including language arts and mathematics. The tests, taken last spring, rank students from “far below basic” proficiency to “advanced,” and results show what percentage of students fall into those categories by class.

In Lodi, 22,473 students were tested. Here are the highlights:

• In English-language arts, 45 percent met or exceeded grade-level standards, a 2-percent increase from last year and 9 percent since 2007. • The district’s fourth-graders scored the highest with 54 percent at proficient or above. • At the high school level, 52 percent of ninth graders hit a similar mark, with 52 percent scoring at proficient or above.

The district’s math scores, however, continue to lag at the high school level. It’s an area administrators were concerned about last year.

In geometry, for example, of the 11th graders who took the test, only 6 percent ranked at proficient or above. Only a fifth of the algebra 2 students hit the same mark.

Elementary math scores were higher across the board, and districtwide there has been a 7 percent improvement rate since 2007. This year’s scores show 51 percent of Lodi’s students met or exceeded the subject’s standards.

Woodbridge Elementary was among the district elementary schools with the largest gains in this year’s testing.

Principal John Kirilov said he is pleased with the overall site performance. Fifth-graders made a 22 percent jump in science over last year.

Overall, the number of the school’s students who reached proficiency increased 6.3 percent in English language arts and a 1.9 percent in math.

“I believe our children are comfortable with our overall philosophy, which promotes academic rigor, and accepting of our conversations about being a professional learning community, for students as well as staff,” Kirilov said in an e-mail. “We consistently talk about going to college as one possible avenue to success.”

He also says that this year site personnel did a more complete job of addressing the needs of all student ability levels, whether it be special needs or English learners.

Administrators continue to look districtwide at sub-group scores.

In the last three years, results have been mixed in closing the achievement gap between ethnic groups in both math and English-language arts. While for the third consecutive year there has been an increase in the percentage meeting or exceeding standards for math, grade-level science and history/social science, the gap between black and white students has widened.

The district attributes the steady growth in overall test scores over the last three years to working collaboratively with teaching professionals, providing high quality professional development, and a shared goal of wanting to provide the best educational experience for our students, Eldridge said.

Curriculum director Lisa Kotowski will give a presentation on the district’s results at tonight’s school board meeting.

This year, the district plans to focus efforts to raise test scores for grades three, six and 11 in English-language arts and in grades two and three for math, according to the staff report.

Nearly 4.75 million students in second through 11th grade took the STAR exams last spring. Districts use the results to determine whether schools are meeting minimum requirements for each subject set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Scores from the California Standards Tests, which is part of the STAR program, are used to determine a school’s Academic Performance Index, or API. A school’s API is a reflection of how well a school performed during the last school year, and results will be released at the end of the month.

For more information, including a school-by-school breakdown of the results, visit star.cde.ca.gov.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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