Turlock Unified School District students scored slightly lower on the the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessment in 2013, reflecting a statewide slip of a fraction of a percentage point. Although scores saw a slight drop from last year, the majority of TUSD students continued to achieve at the proficient or advanced level in math and English language arts.
According to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, budget reductions and the ongoing transition to the Common Core State Standards were contributing factors to the minimal reduction in scores statewide.
“As you would expect for a school system in transition, results varied from grade to grade, subject to subject, and school to school,” said Torlakson. “But the big picture is one of remarkable resilience despite the challenges.”
Approximately 4.7 million California students took the California Standards Test, a major component of the STAR program. The test, given to second through eleventh graders, scores students on one of five levels of performance – advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic.
According to the California Department of Education, 51.2 percent of students statewide scored proficient or above in mathematics, which was 0.3 percentage points lower than 2012. In English language arts, 56.4 percent of California students scored proficient and above, declining 0.8 percentage points compared to last year. The state target is for all students to score at the proficient or advanced level.
Within the TUSD, 52.9 percent of students in second through eleventh grade posted a score of proficient or above in English-language arts, 0.6 percent fewer students than in 2012.
Additionally, 54.8 percent of Turlock students in second through seventh grade scored at a proficient or advanced level in mathematics, dropping 0.5 percentage points from last year.
“TUSD's most recent STAR scores continue to represent the strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the mastery of all core subjects,” said TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. “Upward trends continue to be noted collectively in English language arts, specifically in grades 9 and 10. Upward trends at the elementary level were noted in grades 2, 5, and 6 respectively, specifically in the areas of Algebra. Proficiency rates for students in grades 7-8 remained constant with little growth or decline noted.”
In 2012, 59 percent of TUSD ninth graders scored proficient or advanced in English language arts, while 50 percent of tenth graders scored proficient or advanced in the same subject. In 2013, those achieving ranks of proficient or advanced in ninth and tenth grade increased to 61 percent and 54 percent respectively in English language arts.
As school districts statewide continue to transition to Common Core State Standards, this years STAR results may likely reflect the last time the STAR program is used statewide. The STAR program has been in place since 2003, testing students in the areas of English language arts, mathematics, science and history/social science. In these subjects, the overall percentage of California students scoring at the proficient or advanced level has increased since STAR's inception by 21 percent, 16 percent, 15 percent and 19 percent respectively.
“As valuable as STAR has been, we're getting ready to raise the bar in California schools,” Torlakson said. “This coming year, many students will have their first chance to try tests that measure their preparation for college and the world of work. That's a huge challenge for every part of our education system – but one we have to tackle to give every student the opportunity to prepare for a bright future.”
Even as TUSD transitions to Common Core, Da Marto says that the district will continue to place an emphasis on areas of concern.
“TUSD will continue to place great emphasis on mastery of algebra,” said Da Marto. “Although incremental growth has occurred over the past five years, we know this will be an area of concern as we move away from 'procedural math' in CSTs to 'conceptual math' required in the Common Core State Standards.”
To view the 2013 STAR test results, including individual TUSD school scores, visit http://star.cde.ca.gov/.