STAR shines for school district | September 4, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - September 4, 2009

STAR shines for school district

Statewide test scores continue to rise

by Geoff Gillette

Results issued earlier this month by the California Department of Education showed that students in the San Ramon Unified School District continue to post gains across all grade levels.

According to the state figures, 89 percent of SRVUSD students who took both the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) and California Standards Test (CST) scored proficient or advanced on both exams. Also 86 percent scored proficient or advanced in the CST Mathematics test.

SRVUSD Assessment Coordinator Marianne Splenda said she was very pleased by the results.

"I think that the scores as we see them are a celebration for both the schools, our staff, the students and the parents for all of the hard work in improvements in programs and curricula," she stated.

School Superintendent Steven Enoch agreed.

"When our students and teachers participated in STAR testing last year there were many distractions surrounding them, including the massive state fiscal crisis, worry about a parcel tax election, and the potential for hundreds of teacher layoffs," he said. "Even in this environment our students showed improvement as they gained greater proficiency in the core subject areas."

Enoch said the continued gain on the statewide testing reflects an extremely dedicated group of teachers, supportive parents and a rigorous curriculum.

Second-graders in the district were in the highest percentile on the tests, with 91 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in math. Third-graders followed closely with 90 percent scoring proficient or advanced in math.

The largest gain reported was in 11th grade, where there was an 8-point increase over 2008 STAR test results.

"It's wonderful news for the district and for the public," Splenda said. "Our students take the test seriously and perform well on them."

Splenda said that test benefits the district in a number of ways. It affects its Academic Performance Index (API) scores. API is a statewide accountability program that examines a school's performance and ranks it on a scale of 200-1,000. The statewide goal is for all schools to have an API of at least 800, with each school seeking to gain by at least 5 points each year.

"The API scores are extremely important for the public to have a way to see and compare our schools and district with other schools and districts in California," she said.

The SRVUSD API score in 2008 was 904. District officials said they expect to get the 2009 scores sometime in the next few weeks.

Splenda said another way the tests help is by assisting teachers in determining which students are not mastering the skills needed for that grade level.

"Schools review those students who scored below basic or far below basic skill levels. Those kids are put into an intervention program aimed at re-teaching those skills," Splenda explained.

At the other end of the scale, the STAR test scores are cross-referenced with the placement exam taken at the end of fifth grade to determine if a student can be accelerated when moving into middle school.