By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News
8/16/2010 01:30 PM PDT (updated 8/17/2010 12:14) --Students in Los Angeles Unified made marked gains in reading, math, science and social studies despite cost-cutting measures that enlarged classes and shorted the school year, according to statewide test results released Monday.
Some 40 percent of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are considered proficient or advanced in English and math, according to results from the California Standardized Testing and Reporting. Five years ago, only one-third of the district's students reached proficiency in both subject areas.
While the district matched statewide gains, it still fell short of state averages. Still, local officials said student improvement should be celebrated.
"We began the 2009-10 school year under dire financial conditions ... We cancelled summer school, increased class sizes and reduced the number of support staff at school sites," Superintendent Ramon Cortines wrote in a memo to the school board.
"Through it all, teachers and students prevailed."
The STAR test measures proficiency in English and math at every grade level.
Fifth- eighth- and 10th-graders are also tested in science, while eighth- and 11th-graders are tested in social studies.
Student proficiency is ranked as advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far-below basic.
In 2010, 41 percent of LAUSD's students reached or exceeded proficiency in English, compared with 38 percent last year and 27 percent in 2005.
In math, 39 percent of LAUSD's students scored proficient or advanced in math compared with 37 percent last year and 29 percent in 2005.
Perhaps a larger marker of success for some schools, was the number of students who improved from far-below basic and basic to proficient or better.
At Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, for instance, 37 percent of students reached proficiency in English, up from 30 percent last year. Other schools in the San Fernando Valley, including Reseda and Sylmar High schools also saw marked gains.
New California test scores show schools faring better
by Howard Blume | LA Times / LA Now
August 16, 2010 | 1:30 pm -- Despite thousands of layoffs and shrinking budgets, California schools -- as well as the state's largest school system, Los Angeles Unified -- posted gains in scores on annual standardized tests released Monday.
The incrementally rising scores brought generally good news to various reform efforts underway in the L.A. district, including at Locke High School and at 12 campuses overseen by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Schools still under direct district control also showed gains, some of them larger than the higher-profile efforts touted as superior to what the district could accomplish.
As in past years, the local and statewide gains are incremental -- nobody has found the magic bullet for improving student performance quickly. For the most part, low-performing schools remain low-performing and vast achievement gaps remain between low-income black and Latino students and their white and Asian counterparts.
Among the specifics:
* At Locke High on the edge of Watts, the needle moved slightly upward on academic proficiency, and gains in other areas buttressed the performance.
* Schools under the mayor’s control in South Los Angeles and east of downtown generally improved, but so did two schools about to fall under the mayor’s control for persistent low performance.
* Schools under the control of the traditional district bureaucracy scored the highest gains.
* Statewide, black students are faring the worst.
“Even as schools struggle with the ongoing state fiscal crisis, it is impressive that we are seeing sustained growth in proficiency," Jack O'Connell, the state Supt. of Public Instruction, said in a statement. "California’s standards are among the most rigorous in the nation. I am pleased that more than half of our students are proficient or advanced in English-language arts and nearly half are proficient or advanced in mathematics."
The state’s testing program consists mostly of standardized exams conducted in May. Students in grades 2 through 11 take English tests every year. They generally take common math tests as well through middle school. In high school, students take end-of-course exams that depend on their math level, such as algebra, geometry or more advanced algebra. There also are subject tests at some grade levels in science and history. A student’s raw score is categorized as advanced, proficient, basic, below basic or far below basic.
Since last year, the percentage of students at or above the proficient level in California increased by 2 points in English and 2 points in math.
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