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California School Fiscal Services

Providing comprehensive business office and consulting services to K-12 traditional schools and charters



Less Than Half of Students Achieve Proficiency on Calif. Common-Core Exams

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (5841)
Ok, all of my fellow curriculum and assessment directors - do you all remember when we were first faced with STAR testing?  It feels strangely similar to these first results from Common Core!   

A quick history lesson:  We all faced STAR testing in California and at first our test results were very poor.  Each year, schools made modest increases as we learned how to best prepare our students for this very long assessment.  Over time, results improved.  Then the State dropped STAR and welcomed Common Core.

So, our test results are poor again.  I think if history is any indication of what is to come, we can expect a whole lot of effort directed toward improving on this assessment.  We can expect an increased focus on benchmark assessment, pacing guides, and staff development in the coming years.  

In the business office, it is so important to stay abreast of the "talk" within your respective districts as to the upcoming "plan of attack".  Our job is to make sure our resources are aligned to the educational side of the house.  This means listening and learning the instructional goals of the district and making sure your LCAP reflects them.  Remember, the vision should be aligned with the money.  You can't make this happen if you aren't intimately familiar with that vision.  If you haven't recently taken your Director of Curriculum and Assessment out to lunch, it's time to make an effort.  You've got to be a team to make this happen!  

By Andrew Ujifusa on September 9, 2015 3:22 PM


California's Smarter Balanced test results released Wednesday show that 44 percent of test-takers were proficient or better in English/language arts, while 33 percent achieved at least proficiency in math.


According to the state education department, 16 percent of students exceeded the standard for proficiency in English/language arts, while 28 percent met the standard. In math, 14 percent exceeded the standard, while 19 percent met it. In addition, the department reported that one-quarter of test-takers statewide "nearly" met the standard in English/language arts, while 29 percent were classified that way in math.


The results from the Smarter Balanced exam, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and was given to California students in grades 3-8 and 11, represent a significant departure from statewide test scores from the 2012-13 school year, the last time California reported such statewide test scores. In 2012-13 on the state's STAR exams, 56 percent of students statewide were at least proficient in E/LA, while 51 percent achieved proficiency in math.


In case you were wondering, the reason California doesn't have statewide test scores for 2013-14 reveals just how complicated the assessment landscape has become across the country. In short, the state received permission from the U.S. Department of Education to only adminster Smarter Balanced field tests as its statewide exam for 2013-14.


Comparisons to Other States' Test Scores


On the Smarter Balanced exams, 31 percent of economically disadvantaged students in California achieved proficiency in E/LA, while 21 percent of those students did so in math, according to information from the department. Among English-language learners, 11 percent achieved proficiency in both E/LA and math. Both of those groups are at the center of the state's fundamental overhaul of its school finance and accountability systems that began two years ago.


Unlike in another left-leaning state, New York, the opt-out movement failed to get a lot of traction in California. Less than 1 percent of eligible test-takers opted out of taking Smarter Balanced in California, according to preliminary figures from the state.


You can compare California's performance on Smarter Balanced to Missouri's scores, which were released last month, as well as to Delaware's scores and preliminary results released by Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state in July.


The Smarter Balanced score are "our starting point as a state" and represent a baseline from which to gauge progress in the future, Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement.


"California's new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards," Torlakson said in the statement. "However, just as we expected, many students need to make more progress."