Saugus district shows growth in English, math

The Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Saugus Union School District saw an increase in both English language arts and mathematics for the 2019 school year, according to the newly posted California Dashboard data.

Additionally, the district scored the highest performance level possible in terms of suspension rate, but maintained its chronic absenteeism rate from the 2017-18 school year.

The district’s scores in both English and math were 30.9 points above standard and 7.4 points above standard, respectively. Statewide averages for English were three points below standard, and 33.5 points below standard for math.

“When we look at the dashboard data for Saugus, we certainly want to improve in our language arts and math, even though we’re in green standards, we would love to (be) blue,” said SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins.

The statewide standards are measured in colors with blue indicating the highest level of performance and red indicating low performance. SUSD fell into the “green” category in both math and English, the second highest performance level.

The data shown on the dashboard stated that the district had met standards in the following categories: basics (teachers, instructional materials, facilities); implementation of academic standards; parent and family engagement; local climate survey and access to a broad course of study.

The district’s demographics also show 9,791 students are enrolled in the district, 22.5% are socioeconomically disadvantaged, 12.1% are English learners and 0.2% are foster youth.

Hawkins said the district was proud of its current work on suspensions within the district, but would be looking at chronic absenteeism. While 0.3% of all 10,191 students last year were suspended at least once — with the statewide average being 3.4% — the school district had a 5.9% chronic absenteeism rate.

“Chronic absenteeism,” as defined by the district, is when a student is absent 10% or more of the instructional days they were enrolled. For SUSD, that means 5.9% of students missed more than 18 days of school in a single year.

“School districts overall have increased their rate of attendance, which has been really good, but what they haven’t been doing is addressing those sort of chronic absenteeism students as effectively as they can,” said Hawkins. “So I think that’s across the (SCV).” Hawkins pointed out that the district has maintained its chronic absenteeism rate from previous years.

Of the 735 English learners within the district, 52% are making progress toward English language proficiency.

In terms of student group details based on performance level in English, no students tested in the “red”; homeless students tested in the “orange”; African-American, socioeconomically disadvantaged and students with disabilities tested in the “yellow”; Hispanic children, children of two or more races, English learners and white students tested in the “green”; and Asian and Filipino students tested in the “blue.”

In terms of student group details based on performance level in math, no students tested in the “red”; homeless students tested in the “orange”; African-American, socioeconomically disadvantaged and students with disabilities tested in the “yellow”; Hispanic children, children of two or more races, English learners and white students tested in the “green”; and Asian and Filipino students tested in the “blue.”

Outside of Filipino students testing in the green for mathematics, all performances for mathematics were the same across all student groups as they were in English language arts. Hawkins said the district is continuing to look at ways to close the achievement gap.

“We show a strong trend of increase and we show that we’re meeting the criteria above standard,” Hawkins said, adding that new parents to the district, looking at the dashboard data, are encouraged to talk to SUSD schools and meet with the district principals.

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