Hart District Students Do Well On Standardized Tests
More local high school students test at or above the Advanced and Proficient levels.
Students in the William S. Hart Union High School District continue to make progress on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) tests, according to results released today by the California Department of Education. More students than ever are testing at or above the Advanced and Proficient levels 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 mastered skills that the state has determined are critical for students to master.
“I'm very pleased with the overall results,” said Vicki Engbrecht, director of curriculum and assessment for the Hart Distrist. “But what we do in all of our schools is not just about raising test scores; it's about improving academic achievement of all students. 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 Aug. 31. 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 Aug. 31.
Hart District results for English-Language Arts tests remained strong, with more students achieveing at the Proficient or Advanced levels at every grade level except ninth grade, where the percentage remained the same as last year.
Seventh graders made the highest gains in English-Language Arts, with a six percent increase in the top two levels. The percentage of students scoring below Basic decreased at every grade level.
The Hart District also made gains in student subgroups such as English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnic minorities, students whose lower test scores form the “achievement gap” which concerns educators across the state.
While the percent of English learners scoring at the highest levels did not increase this year, the percent scoring below the Basic level decreased in every grade except seventh. The percentage of Proficient students designated as socioeconomically disadvantaged improved at every grade level from two to ten percent, while the percent scoring below the Basic level dropped slightly (one to four percent) at the junior high level and significantly (eight to 16 percent) at the high school level.
The Hispanic subgroup showed slight growth in the number of students achieving at the highest levels in all grades, and the percent of students scoring below Basic decreased at all grades by at least two percent.
On the mathematics portion of the test, Hart District students posted strong scores for the third year in a row. At the seventh grade level, every school except one registered increases in the percent of students achieving proficiency.
Fifty-nine percent of district seventh graders scored at the highest levels on the Seventh Grade Math California Standards Test (CST) in 2007 compared to 56 percent in 2006. The percentage of seventh graders scoring below Basic also decreased at almost every junior high school.
Comparisons are 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 2006/07 school year.
More students took the Algebra CST in 2007 as opposed to the less rigorous General Math CST, and the proficiency rate remained fifty points over the Los Angeles County figures. Every school registered a decrease in the percent of eighth graders performing below the Basic level in Algebra even though the percent of students completing algebra in junior high increased.
The strongest mathematics gains were at the highest mathematics levels this year. Ten percent more Hart District students scored above Proficient on the Algebra II CST, and seven percent more students scored at the highest levels on the High School Summative Math CST.
The percent of English learners and students in the socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroup scoring below Basic declined in Seventh Grade Math, General Math and Algebra. The Hispanic subgroup also showed a decline in students performing below Basic in mathematics.
The Hart District continued to score well above the Los Angeles County and California state averages. In English/Language Arts, 65 percent of Hart District seventh graders scored Proficient and above, compared to 40 percent in the county and 46 percent in the state. In eighth grade, 58 percent of Hart District students were at Proficient or above, compared to 35 percent in the county and 41 percent in the state. Hart District ninth and tenth graders were more than 20 percentage points above the county average and 15 to 18 percent above the state average, while 49 percent of Hart District 11th graders were at Proficient or above compared to 35 percent across the county and 37 percent across the state.
In General Math, 48 percent of local students scored at Proficient or above, compared with 20 percent in the county and 23 percent in the state. The Hart District’s Algebra test results were even more outstanding, with 82 percent at Proficient and above, compared with 32 percent in the county and 38 percent in the state.
End-of-course exams for students in grades 8 through 11 showed the following percent of students at Proficient or above: General Math – Hart 40 percent, county 18 percent; Algebra – Hart 41 percent, county 20 percent; Geometry – Hart 52 percent, county 19 percent; Algebra 2 – Hart 53 percent, county 35 percent; and Summative High School Math – Hart District 70 percent, Los Angeles county 23 percent.
“I credit the District's gains to the hard work of our teachers and school leaders,” Engbrecht concluded. “They have set specific goals for student achievement, have made sure that what is taught in the classroom is aligned to the California content standards, and have provided daily instruction that is focused on getting students to where they need to be.”