SMMUSD HDQTRS — Santa Monica and Malibu students showed gains in both language arts and mathematics in the most recent statewide standardized test, the California Department of Education reported this week.

The results of the 2009-2010 State Proficiency and California Standards Tests (CST) showed 70 percent of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students who took the exam were proficient or advanced in language arts, compared with 52 percent of students statewide and 48 percent in Los Angeles County. In math, 59 percent of SMMUSD students were advanced or proficient, compared with 48 percent statewide and 45 percent in the L.A. County.

The local district’s results represented small gains of 1 percent in language arts and 3 percent in math compared with the previous year.

The language arts and math test was administered to students in grades two through 11. Tests in history and science were administered to select grade levels. In those subjects, SMMUSD students also scored better than students statewide and in the county and showed modest gains compared with local scores from the 2008-09 school year.

“What stands out to me is that we made pretty significant growth in mathematics this year,” said Maureen Bradford, the district’s director of assessment, research, and evaluation. “We were really happy to see that happen because it has been an area of particular focus for us.”

The results, she said, validated the district’s concentration on improving math instruction during the past two years in teachers’ professional development workshops.

“That area has been more difficult for us to demonstrate growth over time, so it was great to see a 3 percent gain in our math scores over last year.”

Superintendent Tim Cuneo stated in a press release the results were part of a steady pattern of continuous improvement.

“This multi-year upward trend is reflective of the high caliber of our teachers and their on-going efforts to improve instructional practice,” he said, while noting scores for some demographic groups remained significantly lower than the district average. “Our work continues as we build a strategic plan centered on narrowing the achievement gap for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English learners and students with disabilities.”

Fifty-two percent of African American students in SMMUSD scored proficient or advanced in language arts last school year, in-line with the statewide average but 18 percentage points below the district average.

Latino students scored slightly lower in language arts, with 49 percent proficient or better.

Asian students scored best on the language arts test, with 86 percent proficient or advanced, followed by white students, 81 percent of whom were at least proficient.

The latest test results showed a similar achievement gap in math, with Asian and white students scoring well above the statewide average, and black and Latino students scoring well below.

Overall, district improvement was in-line with annual gains on the standardized test since 2002.

District officials also touted an “additional bright spot” in the test results, noting an increase in the district-wide percentage of students who scored in the advanced category. In math and science, the percentage of students scoring at the advanced level increased by nearly four points, and by three points in English, officials said.

Two important school accountability measures, the Academic Performance Index (API) and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports, are due to be released by the state Department of Education by the end of the month.


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