Three-quarters of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students met or exceeded state English standards and 6 in 10 tested at or above grade level for math, according to data released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.

SMMUSD students posted a six-point gain in English and a five-point gain in math on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) from 2015 to 2017. Proficiency rates have remained unchanged between 2017 and 2019.

The district’s scores outpace state averages by roughly 20 percentage points. A little more than half of public school students in California tested proficient in English and 4 in 10 met or exceeded math standards.

White and Asian students in SMMUSD schools also outpace African American and Latino students by about 20 percentage points. Gaps in performance along racial and class lines have long plagued the district and administrators have spent the past three years implementing strategies that it hired UCLA professor Pedro Noguera to develop.

The district released data last month showing that African American, Latino and socioeconomically disadvantaged students all scored six points higher on average on the English portion of the 2019 CAASPP, which assigns scores on a scale of 2,000 to 3,000 points. African American students also scored eight and seven points higher on the test’s math portion.

In 2019, the percentage of African American and Latino students who tested proficient in English increased by one point. 56% of African American students and 58% of Latino students met English standards, compared to 84% of white and Asian students.

The percentage of African American students who met math standards rose by 2%, but the proportion of Latino students proficient in math remained unchanged. 39% of African American students and 41% of Latino students met math standards. 73% of white students and 80% of Asian students demonstrated proficiency in math.

The test scores of each racial group also varied widely based on economic status.

Poorer white and Latino students lagged behind their more affluent counterparts by about 20 percentage points in both English and math. The gap between wealthier and poorer African American students stands at 12 points in English and 14 in math.

While Asian students surpassed other racial groups in overall proficiency, their scores also displayed the widest economic achievement gap. Economically disadvantaged Asian students tested 24 points lower in English and 28 lower in math than Asian students who are not economically disadvantaged.

Across all racial groups, 53% of economically disadvantaged students met English standards and 37% met math standards. Those proportions rose to 82% and 70% for wealthier students.

Achievement gaps in local schools also exist based on factors other than race.

Female students tested nine percentage points higher than male students in English and one point higher in math, English learners scored 50 points lower in English and 41 points lower in math and students with disabilities tested 43 points lower in English and 38 points lower in math.

madeleine@smdp.com

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