San Diego Unified students make gains on standardized tests

By City News Service

San Diego Unified students made gains on standardized tests for a fourth straight year, with more of them scoring “advanced” or “proficient” in math and English, according to results released Monday.

The gains in SDUSD scores in the 2010 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program mirrored the overall upward climb by students across the state, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

Improving scores were cause for celebration for the state and many school districts, which have been struggling with budget deficits and teacher layoffs.

“These gains in student achievement have come during a period when our district has sustained unprecedented budget cuts,” said SDUSD Superintendent Bill Kowba.

“But even in the face of draconian budget cuts, schools throughout the district have been making gains in student achievement with a community-based reform process that encourages teacher collaboration, data-driven teaching strategies, a broad curriculum and strong behavioral standards and support for students,” he said.

According to the STAR results, 56 percent of SDUSD students in grades 2-11 scored “proficient” or “advanced” in English, up from 52 percent last year.

The rate of “proficient” or “advanced” scores in math among students in grades 2-7 was 48 percent, up from 45 percent last year.

O’Connell, who released the STAR results at a news conference in Pasadena, said students across the state showed gains on the tests.

“For the eighth consecutive year, California’s public school student performance has improved,” he said. “Even as schools struggle with the ongoing state fiscal crisis, it is impressive that we are seeing sustained growth in proficiency.

“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. This is a significant gain since we first started measuring student progress on tests fully aligned to our standards eight years ago, and a testament to the hard work of our students, teachers, parents, school administrators and other school staff.”

About 4.73 million students took part in the 2010 STAR program, which includes California Standards Tests, California Modified Assessment, California Alternate Performance Assessment and Standards-based Tests in Spanish.