Mascot, Harry the Husky, high-fives Newhall School District students during an assembly at Pico Canyon Elementary School in Stevenson Ranch. Dan Watson/The Signal

Newhall district scores in the top tier of the California School Dashboard

Newhall School District leaders have long considered their schools to be among the best in the state, and the newly released California School Dashboard results appear to support that claim.

NSD is the only district in the Santa Clarita Valley to score in the highest tiers of both the English language arts and mathematics sections of the dashboard, according to the recently released results. The district finished 46.4 points above standard in the English portion and 36.3 points above standard in the math section, which was an increase over last year’s score.

With 6,537 students in the district, Newhall has some of the highest percentages of “socioeconomically disadvantaged” students and English learners in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the dashboard. Nearly a quarter of all kids in the district are classified as English learners and more than 42 percent of children are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which means there are many unique student population groups that comprise the district.

“The data that you see for the district is what all students accounted for,” Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said before adding that the most important data is in the details — specifically the student group details section, which grades each student group by performance level.

“When you drill down to the student groups data, that’s where we look at the various factors and figure out which students groups are excelling and which need more support,” Pelzel said. “We’re proud of the fact that we didn’t have any students in the red but we do have some areas to improve.”

In the mathematics section, the students with disabilities population scored in the orange, but that’s something Pelzel believes will soon change.

“The (California School Dashboard) system as a whole is used to create an area of focus,” Pelzel said, meaning a district team will look at the opportunity gap — or where there’s room for growth — and address it using methods that’d benefit that specific student population.

“That’s the beauty of this data,” Pelzel said. “It allows us to look at our students and target their needs to then drive increased outcomes.”

And the district knows it can be successful, Pelzel said. For example, the African American student group went from orange to green and the socioeconomically disadvantaged students moved up another tier.

Some might find it hard to find ways to improve after ranking in the blue, but Pelzel said Newhall is always striving for greater successes.

To see a complete overview of how each local Santa Clarita Valley school district scored on the California School Dashboard, visit caschooldashboard.org or check the daily edition of The Signal throughout this week for a breakdown of the results from each of the five local public school districts. The Sulphur Springs and Castaic district breakdowns appeared earlier in the week, and remaining districts include Saugus Union and the William S. Hart Union High school districts.

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