Students in the William S. Hart Union High School District have scored a banner year on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) tests, according to results released today by the California Department of Education. Almost every group and subgroup across all grade levels has shown improvement in both English/language arts and math-the state's goal for student achievement.
The tests, which are taken by all California students, result in scores at five levels-Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic and Far Below Basic. More Hart District students tested in the top two levels and fewer in the lower two levels. The tests measure how students have mastered skills that the state has determined are critical for students to master.
"I'm very pleased with the overall results," said Dave LeBarron, director of curriculum and assessment for the Hart District. "We have worked very hard to pull all kids up to higher achievement levels, and these test scores show that what we have been doing is working. The STAR test is just one way of helping us to measure our progress, and the results tell us we're on the right track."
The raw scores released today will form the basis of the state's Academic Performance Index (API) which will be released Sept. 2. STAR results also are the basic component of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the national yardstick for student success, at the junior high level. AYP at the high school level is based on results of the California High School Exit Exam. AYP rankings also will be released on Sept. 2.
STAR results give not only the overall scores, but also those for subgroups such as ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged students. The Hart District made gains in student subgroups such as English learners, economically disadvantaged and ethnic minorities, students whose lower test scores form the "achievement gap" which concerns educators across the state.
The Hart District's scores for students in the Hispanic and black subgroups have shown increases in every category except ninth grade English/language arts. English learners made particularly strong gains in eighth grade English/language arts (up 24 percent) and eighth grade math (up 11 percent).
Students with disabilities also showed gains in every category except eighth grade math. Economically disadvantaged students increased in all categories, with the largest increase (nine percent) in seventh and eighth grade English/language arts.
"Based on the outstanding results from our STAR tests, I think we will do very well in both API and AYP," LeBarron explained. "The subgroups are doing very well. That is the power of No Child Left Behind, and we have done that very well. The numbers support that."
Hart District results for English-Language Arts tests remained strong, with more students achieving at the Proficient or Advanced levels at every grade level except 11th grade, where it fell by one percent.
Seventh and eighth graders made the highest gains in English-Language Arts, with a four percent increase in the top two levels of proficiency.
On the mathematics portion of the test, Hart District students posted strong scores for the fifth year in a row. More students than ever before are taking algebra in the seventh and eighth grades, and 92 percent of those students are scoring at Proficient and above. The percentage of students scoring Proficient and above in seventh grade math increased by three points, and the percentage of students scoring Below Basic decreased by five percent.
Comparison in math scores is more difficult beginning in the eighth grade, since students do not all take the same math CST. Instead, they take an "end of course" test in general math, algebra, geometry, Algebra II, or high school summative math, depending on the course they completed during the 2008/09 school year.
Seventh grade students taking Algebra I also took the Algebra I End of Course exam. "This means that 254 high-performing seventh grade mathematics students took the Algebra I CST instead of the seventh grade mathematics CST," LeBarron explained. "These students performed very well on the Algebra I CST with 95 percent of them achieving scores of Proficient or Advanced."
He noted that their absence from the seventh grade mathematics CST did not cause the number of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the exam to decline; it actually increased by three percent.
"Last year, 4775 seventh through 11th grade Hart District students completed a course in algebra and took the algebra CST," LeBarron continued. "This is approximately 25 percent of all students tested, and the percent of these students scoring Proficient or above improved from 44 percent in 2008 to 47 percent this year."
The Hart District continued to score well above the Los Angeles County and California state averages. In English/Language Arts, 68 percent of Hart District ninth graders scored Proficient and above, compared to 43 percent in the county and 50 percent in the state. In tenth grade, 59 percent of Hart District students were at Proficient or above, compared to 39 percent in the county and 44 percent in the state.
Hart District junior high students also scored well above the county in English/language arts. Seventy-one percent of Hart seventh graders scored Proficient and above, compared to 48 percent in the county; and 66 percent of eighth graders hit that mark locally compared to 43 percent in the county.
Hart District eleventh graders also were 18 percentage points above the county average and 15 percent above the state average in English/language arts.
In eighth grade general math, 60 percent of local students scored at Proficient or above, compared with 27 percent in the county and 30 percent in the state. The district scores increased by three percent, compared to no increase in the county and a decrease in the state.
End-of-course exams for students in grades seven through 11 showed the following percent of students at Proficient or above: General math - Hart 50 percent, county 25 percent; algebra - Hart 47 percent, county 26 percent; geometry - Hart 58 percent, county 22 percent; Algebra 2 - Hart 45 percent, county 25 percent; and summative high school math - Hart District 73 percent, Los Angeles County 48 percent.
The district's approach to No Child Left Behind follows a three-pronged approach: Determine what skills students need to master, assess how well students are mastering those skills, and develop programs to help students who are not achieving those goals. The program's strength is reflected in the district's increased STAR scores, particularly for subgroups for ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities, according to LeBarron.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Pat Willett - Community Liaison Officer - (661) 259-0033 Ext. 227