Hart District Touts STAR Testing Success
Overall scores have improved District officials optimistic about API.
The William S. Hart School District STAR test results have been released, and they show a marked improvement by our Jr. High and High School students.
The results were reported by the California Department of Education this morning and they showed that nearly every group across all grade levels improved their scores in English/language arts and math.
STAR testing is required of all students in California, and it offers five grades; Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic and Far Below Basic.
According to the Hart District, the recent results show that more students placed in the top two scoring levels, while the number of students placing in the lower two levels decreased.
“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. 4. 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. 4.
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 seventh grade math. English learners made particularly strong gains in seventh grade English/language arts (up 10 percent) and eighth grade math (up nine percent).
Students with disabilities also showed gains in every category except seventh grade math, and even that category showed a decrease in the number of students scoring Below Basic. Economically disadvantaged students increased in all categories, with the largest increase (16 percent) in eighth grade math.
“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.
Eleventh graders made the highest gains in English-Language Arts, with an eight percent increase in the top two levels of proficiency. The percentage of students scoring below Basic decreased or remained unchanged at every grade level.
On the mathematics portion of the test, Hart District students posted strong scores for the fourth year in a row. More students than ever before are taking algebra in the seventh and eighth grades, and more than 90 percent of those students are scoring at Proficient and Above. The percentage of students scoring Proficient and above in seventh grade math dropped slightly by three points, but the percentage of students scoring Below Basic remained unchanged at 17 percent.
According to the district, comparisons become 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 2007/08 school year.
For the first time this year, seventh grade students taking Algebra I were required to take the Algebra I End of Course exam.
“This means that 298 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 96 percent of them achieving scores of Proficient or Advanced.”
He noted, however, that their absence from the seventh grade mathematics CST did contribute to the number of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the exam declining three percent from last year.
The strongest mathematics gains were at the ninth grade general mathematics level this year. Eleven percent more Hart District students scored at Proficient and above on the general mathematics CST. The number of students scoring Proficient and above in Algebra 1 also increased slightly.
“Last year, 4871 seventh through 11th grade Hart District students completed a course in algebra and took the algebra CST,” LeBarron continued. “This is an increase of 704 students, or 17 percent, from the previous school year. The percent of these students scoring Proficient or above improved from 41 percent in 2007 to 44 percent this year.”
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 ninth graders scored Proficient and above, compared to 42 percent in the county and 49 percent in the state. In tenth grade, 57 percent of Hart District students were at Proficient or above, compared to 37 percent in the county and 41 percent in the state.
Hart District eleventh graders also were more than 20 percentage points above the county average and 19 percent above the state average in English/language arts. The Hart District’s eleventh graders achieving at Proficient and above increased by 7 percent, compared to a decrease of one percent in the county.
In eighth grade general math, 57 percent of local students scored at Proficient or above, compared with 27 percent in the county and 31 percent in the state. The district scores increased by nine percent, compared to a seven percent increase in the county.
End-of-course exams for students in grades seven through 11 showed the following percent of students at Proficient or above: General math – Hart 48 percent, county 25 percent; algebra – Hart 44 percent, county 22 percent; geometry – Hart 50 percent, county 20 percent; Algebra 2 – Hart 48 percent, county 24 percent; and summative high school math – Hart District 75 percent, Los Angeles county 46 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. LeBarron says that 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.