By Amy Orr | LB Indy
Last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the findings of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). At the end of the 2017-18 school year, more than three million California youngsters in grades 3-8 and 11 were tested.
Statewide, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA); 38.65 percent met or exceeded the expectations in mathematics.
LBUSD numbers were significantly higher than the state results. Across the district, 82 percent of Laguna students met or exceeded ELA standards. In mathematics, 74 percent of Laguna youngsters were at or above the benchmarks.
CAASPP statistics come from student scores on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments. This online testing system, created to replace the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR), was first implemented in California schools in 2015. According to the California Department of Education (CDE) website, eliminating pencil and paper examinations allows the state to assess student aptitude more quickly and measure growth over time.
Laguna schools have shown impressive growth since the start of the new testing procedures. Comparisons between LBUSD 2015 and 2018 data show a districtwide increase of 6 percent in English performance (moving from 76 percent to 82 percent) and an 8 percent increase in mathematics achievement (going from 66 percent to 74 percent).
“We are thrilled to see this continuous improvement for our students in literacy and mathematics,” said LBUSD Director of Assessment and Accountability Chad Mabery. “This level of academic excellence and growth across four years speaks volumes about the dedication and efforts of our students, teachers, and instructional leaders.”
In Laguna’s elementary schools, the total number of students tested fell (from 686 in 2015 to 590 in 2018), but student achievement levels rose. Collectively, 79.5 percent of the third, fourth, and fifth graders of El Morro and Top of the World met or exceeded ELA standards; in 2018 that number climbed to 88 percent (an 8.5 percent increase). Even more significant was the elementary school jump in mathematics, from 72.4 percent in 2015 to 82.7 percent in 2018 (an improvement of 10.3 percent).
Thurston Middle School had similar levels of success. Combined scores of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders showed 71.7 percent of the group meeting or exceeding English standards in 2015; in 2018, that percentage was 80.8 percent (a 9.1 percent gain). Mathematics performance improved 11 percent over the four years, with 63.8 percent at or above expectation in 2015 and 74.8 percent reaching that level in 2018.
In high school, only eleventh graders take California’s Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments. In 2015, 254 Laguna Beach juniors were tested; 82 percent of them met or exceeded ELA standards and 55 percent of them hit the mark in mathematics. Of the 293 students examined in 2018, 74.7 percent achieved the necessary levels in ELA and 56.2 percent did so in mathematics. These numbers show a small improvement in math (1.2 percent), but a 7.3 percent decline in high school English performance.
In his comments on the district’s scores, LBUSD Superintendent Jason Viloria said the CAASP numbers “demonstrate the incredible capacity of students and staff in the Laguna Beach Unified School District.”
Viloria lauded Laguna’s “whole child approach,” which “addresses academic and social-emotional needs of students for long-term success.”