Riverside County students make gains on STAR test for ninth year in a row
Based on statewide STAR testing results just released, Riverside County registered gains in student academic achievement for the 9th consecutive year since the current STAR assessment system was launched in 2003. Riverside County’s gains in the English Language-arts, one of two gateway subjects for college and career readiness, lead all comparable California counties. Its increases in mathematics, the other gateway subject, were third-best in that peer group.
Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young connected the county’s STAR results with relevance for each student’s future. “We want a high quality of life for all Riverside County residents. That will require high-quality education. This kind of sustained improvement in our test scores shows our schools are focused on creating the educational culture we need to reach that aim.”
Some 325,000 Riverside County 2nd through 11th grade students participated in the 2012 STAR program, taking a range of grade- and subject-specific tests last spring. Fifty-six percent scored proficient or better in English-language arts and forty-nine percent were proficient or better in mathematics. Both represent new highs for Riverside County scores in the main STAR component, the California Standards Test. Young noted the seven percent difference between the county’s math and English-language arts results reflects “a need to place increased emphasis on increasing mathematics skills much earlier in school.”
Another bright spot in the test data, released today (Friday, Aug. 31) by the California Department of Education, was Riverside County’s showing on STAR science exams.
Riverside County had 3-percent gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in eighth-grade science and biology, and a 5-percent increase in chemistry proficiency. Scores in physics held steady, with a solid 61 percent scoring proficient or above. Since 2003, that success rate in physics has nearly doubled, while the number of students taking the physics test is up 174 percent; in fact, that number went up 15 percent just this year.
“To be employment competitive in today’s economy, our students will increasingly need skill-sets based in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math,” said Young. “Riverside County teachers and students get that. These numbers are evidence that they’re rising to this challenge together.”
Riverside County student subgroups have also made clear gains on the STAR since 2003. On the English-language arts side, proficient scoring by students with disabilities, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students is up markedly. Math gains for those groups are also improving.
Based on the 2012 California Standards Test results, the Top 5 performing unified school districts in Riverside County are: Temecula Valley Unified, Murrieta Valley Unified, Corona-Norco Unified, Beaumont Unified and Desert Sands Unified.
The Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, or STAR, was created to show how well California’s schools were educating students to state standards. The work of aligning STAR to those standards was achieved in 2003. Scoring also provides parents with a means of gauging how well their students are doing in comparison with their peers statewide.
Depending on how high students’ score, they are judged to have performed far below basic, below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. Proficient is the state’s goal for all students, but Young noted that in many cases, proficient is not the same as college and career ready. “When you look at the 11th grade Early Assessment Program results to see if students are ready for college and career without needing remediation classes, there is a very high correlation between the percentage of students scoring ‘college and career ready’ on the EAP and the percentage of students scoring ‘advanced’ on the STAR results in English-language arts. In math, almost all of the 11th grade students that score advanced on the STAR also score college and career ready on the EAP, but some of the proficient scored college and career ready as well. That is most likely because students needed to be enrolled in Algebra II or higher in order to take the EAP in math and only 50% of the students in the county were eligible by 11th grade. This meant the pool of test takers was smaller, but better prepared.”
Some students take alternative exams. The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) measures the achievement of students who have significant cognitive disabilities. The California Modified Assessment test (CMA) is designed for higher-performing students who nonetheless have an Individual Education Plan. And the Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) is administered to some Spanish-speaking English learners who either receive instruction in Spanish or who have been enrolled in school in the United States less than 12 months. All English learners also must take the CST and/or the CMA.
For information contact:
Rick Peoples, Public Information Officer
Telephone: (951) 826-6642
Fax: (951) 826-6199