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Lodi students show slight improvement in STAR scores

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 10:56 am

Twenty-five schools in Lodi Unified School District increased the percentage of students who were proficient in English-language arts or math on the California Standards Test from 2012 to 2013.

“Additionally, many of these schools increased the percent of ‘proficient’ in English/language arts or math by at least five percentage points, which was significant growth,” Ed Eldridge, coordinator of Lodi Unified’s Assessment, Research and Evaluation Department, said in an email. “Also, several of our schools increased the percent of ‘proficient’ students in both English-language arts and math from 2012 to 2013.”

In Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, scores released Thursday by the California Department of Education, Lodi Unified showed its greatest language arts improvement in ninth and 10th grades.

The district’s high school sophomores scored 8 percent better this year than in 2012 in the “advanced” and “proficient” categories in the state tests. Freshman scores in language arts were up 7 percent this year.

The California Standards Tests, the major component of the STAR program, were given to approximately 4.7 million students in grades two through 11 earlier this year. Students attain one of five levels of performance for each subject tested: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic.

The State Board of Education has established the “proficient” level as the desired level of achievement for all students. That goal represents a point at which students demonstrate a competent understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by the assessment at a particular grade, in a particular content area.

In Lodi Unified, scores listed as “proficient” or “advanced” were below the state average. At 49 percent, Lodi Unified was lower than the state in English-language arts. Statewide, 56 percent of the students were proficient or above.

Math scores were a mixed bag between second and seventh grades at Lodi Unified schools in Lodi, Lockeford, Victor, Acampo, Woodbridge and North Stockton.

Tokay High School showed particular improvement in English. Principal Erik Sandstrom credits English teachers working together with district curriculum officials. Additionally, ninth-grade English teachers are collaborating with 10th-grade teachers, and 10th-grade teachers are working with their 11th-grade counterparts.

“It looks like it’s paying off,” Sandstrom said.

Fifty-eight percent of Tokay freshmen placed in the “proficient” category or higher; 49 percent of the sophomores and 42 percent of the juniors were proficient or advanced.

Dawn Vetica, assistant superintendent for middle and high schools, also singled out Lodi High in English and Lodi Middle School, which performed well in math and English-language arts.

One of the elementary schools in Lodi that performed well was Washington, which had 20 more children reaching the “proficient” level than last year.

“We’re excited for the kids,” Washington Principal Dan Faith said. “Any time you get 20 more kids in the proficient level, that is a reason to celebrate.”

Faith credits Read 180, a new program that focuses on reading, spelling and comprehension, and an incentive program called “Attendance, Achievement and Attitude.”

Children at Washington get certificates with their picture on them and free “Wildcat” dollars to spend at the student store for arriving at school on time, behaving themselves on the playground and doing their personal best academically, Faith said.

Washington, with many English language learners and low-income students, scored in the 20 percent range (proficient or higher) in language arts in second and third grades, but they were a lot higher in the upper grades. Third-graders leaped to 54 percent proficient or higher.

Washington was even more successful in math, with 89 percent of the fourth-graders scoring in the proficient range or higher.

“We’re going in right direction (districtwide),” Faith said.

Lodi Unified students improved by 1 percentage point this year in history, which covers U.S. history in eighth and 11th grades. This year, Lodi Unified had 46.1 percent of students scoring in the “proficient” or “advanced” range.

In English-language arts for second through 11th grades, Lodi showed a 0.7 percent growth in the number of students scoring “proficient” or advanced than in 2012. In fifth- and eighth-grade math, the number of students scoring proficient or above grew by 0.4 percent.

However, science scores were down in Lodi. In science, 52.8 percent of Lodi Unified students were in the proficient and advanced range this year. Last year, 53.4 of the district’s students at proficient or above in science.

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District students, too, showed improvement over last year’s scores in only one of four core subjects.

They bested the state in the annual exam by as much as 11 percentage points in some subjects, including math. In that subject, 62 percent of students districtwide scored proficient or advanced. That was a slight improvement from last year’s score.

In English-language arts, 59 percent were at proficient or above (down from 63 percent last year), while 53 percent landed there for history. That was a drop from last year’s 66 percent.

This year, 67 percent scored at that level in science (down from 71 percent in 2012), compared to just 59 percent of all students in California.

In a grade-by-grade review, Galt elementary students showed the highest numbers, with a remarkable 100 percent of seventh-graders scoring at proficient or advanced on the algebra exam. Eighth-grade geometry students earned the same score.

Other high scorers were fifth-, eighth- and 10th-grade life science students who were 78 percent at proficient or advanced.

And 69 percent of fourth-graders taking the English-language arts exam scored the same combined level. On the math exam, fourth-graders were the high scorers, with 78 percent being proficient or above.

However, close to 50 percent of eighth-graders in algebra remained at the basic level or below.

Under its recent receipt of a federal Race to the Top grant, the district could also see a renewed push for middle school social science; 47 percent of eighth-graders were below proficient. Last year, the same group scored 66 percent proficient or advanced, compared to 59 percent in 2011.

Galt Joint Union High School District

The city’s high school students ranked the same or slightly higher than their counterparts statewide in all subjects except science. In that subject, only 57 percent of the district’s students were at proficient or advanced, compared to 59 percent of California students.

Last year, they saw improvements on the history portion, but went down in both the English-language arts and science portions. Tenth-graders, the only scores released to the public, dropped five percentage points in science when it came to the number who scored at proficient or above.

Looking at each grade’s scores by subject, ninth-grade algebra students saw the highest scores with 80 percent scoring at proficient or above.

But results show improvement is needed in geometry, where 94 percent of juniors scored basic or below. Ninety-one percent of sophomores were in the same category.

Superintendent Matthew Roberts said the trend generally has to do with the progression of courses, the level of math completed prior to attending high school, and whether the subject is a repeat due to a failed grade.

The grade-level scores show an increase in proficiency levels from algebra I to geometry to algebra II by high school year. In every grade level except for 11th grade, geometry at Liberty Ranch High School, for example, showed upward progression, according to Roberts.

He is looking ahead to statewide changes related to the implementation of common core standards which will affect curriculum, the way courses are taught and ultimately test scores. To do this, the district has formed districtwide leadership teams for mathematics and literacy, specifically.

“The mathematics leadership team recommended that we first focus on instructional change, in order to address how we begin to implement common core,” Roberts said. “As we do ... it will gradually change what students know and what they are able to do, and we expect the accountability system to change along with this.

“For now, these (STAR) data represent snapshots of performance. We are shifting our focus to more of a progress model, which will look at student growth over time,” he said. “I am looking forward to the new emphasis under our forthcoming assessment system. This will be a pivotal year.”

Contact reporters Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com and Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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