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Schools Focus On Improving Test Scores
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Taken in April, just prior to the end of the school year, Standardized Testing And Reporting (STAR) measures students’ progress toward achieving California’s state academic content standards. The scores attained on these tests are tied to Academic Performance Index (API) scores, which are the standard by which schools are measured.

STAR results for the 2010-2011 school year are available and reports for API growth are slated to be available later this month. Schools in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District have taken measures to continue to improve student scores, using intervention programs where needed.

“Teachers worked with the district to review data overall and to focus on those students who were close to being proficient in language arts and math but missed the mark by a small margin,” explained OJUSD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Barbara Shook. “Each site then developed interventions to address the needs of the students.”

Oakdale Junior High School Principal John Simons said that he’s pleased with the junior high’s recently-received STAR test scores for the 2010-2011 year and he’s confident that the STAR results will even better this next year.

He noted that changes in course offerings and placements from last year seemed to have made a difference in the junior high scores. Simons also said that this year the junior high is focusing on Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI), which he expects to improve the results further.

Under the STAR program, there are five levels of performance that students can attain for each subject: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. Proficient is the target level for students to achieve.

The California standards tests that students take are: English–language arts (ELA) for grades two through eleven; Math for grades two through nine; Science for grades five, eight, and ten (life science); and History–social science for grades eight and eleven (U.S. history).

Fair Oaks Elementary School Principal Stacey Aprile reported that their reading-specific and math-specific interventions to support students were done after school and during the school day.

“Our goal was to help struggling students be successful with grade level content mastery by scoring Proficient or Advanced on the 2011 STAR,” she said. “We had about 75 students achieve that goal – moving from a Basic or lower score in 2010 to proficiency in 2011.”

While students’ scores overall are significant, there are also a few individuals that stood out. Shook reported that of all students tested in OJUSD – second through eleventh grades – which is about 3,400 students, three students received perfect scores in English/Language Arts (ELA) and 48 students received perfect scores in math. One student, now in seventh grade, in the district received perfect scores in both ELA and math.

“Over time the district continues to see grade level improvement overall,” Shook said.

The approximately 170-student, K-8 Valley Home Joint School District had four students achieve perfect scores, all of them in the math portion of the STAR test, reported school Administrative Assistant Susan Poncabare, who stated she doesn’t recall having so many students achieve that in the past.

Knights Ferry School District Superintendent/Principal Cheryl Griffiths said that her 119-student school K-8 district did not have any perfect scores but had several that scored advanced.

“Last year in January we implemented an RTI (response to intervention) program to address students’ needs,” she said of their efforts to improve STAR scores.