State English, math test scores inch up in STAR exams

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said 2 percent more second through 11th graders scored proficient or better on yearly math and English test scores.

Results out today from an annual batch of standardized tests indicate incremental improvement among public school students.

They’re known as the STAR tests and they measure second through eleventh graders’ knowledge of English, math, science, and history. The results fall into five categories: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, far below basic.

State schools superintendent Jack O’Connell welcomed this year’s results.

"Despite the consistent, and quite frankly, devastating cuts in Sacramento to the education budget, I am most pleased with the resiliency of out public school system," O'Connell said.

This year, 52 percent of students scored the state’s goal of proficient or above on the English section. Math scores were nearly the same. Scores in both subjects improved two percentage points compared with last year.

There’s a push among state and regional educators to use tests like these to evaluate teacher performance. O’Connell said he agrees with using test results, in part, to measure good teaching.

The news conference took place in teacher Rebecca Caruso’s classroom at Cleveland Elementary School in Pasadena. She said behavior problems in one class brought STAR test scores down. Caruso said that measuring teacher effectiveness using standardized tests is not the answer to the biggest school issue of the moment.

"That ineffective teachers are still in our classrooms. We’re evaluated on a couple observations in the school year and that’s how we’re evaluated, and I think it needs to be broader, just as the students, their evaluations should be based, not just on a one-time test," she said.

Educators agreed that it’s going to take a lot of work to boost students’ academic performance as schools grapple with cuts in state funding.

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