Report cards are in for local schools’ standardized test scores

The structure of the 21st-century classroom is optimized for small group instruction. SIGNAL FILE PHOTO

The report cards are in for local educators, with elementary school districts reporting the most recent results from the state’s standardized tests. 

Statewide, 46.66% of students met or exceeded the statewide standard for English language arts based on their scores, and 34.62% of students met or exceeded the statewide average for math.  

Throughout Los Angeles County, just under half, 47.18%, met the state standard in English language arts, while 34.75% met the state standard in math.  

Countywide, scores remained relatively stagnant in a year-over-year comparison, with the scores in 2021-22 in English and math at 47.2% and 32.86% meeting or exceeding the state standard. 

In 2018-19, the last year before scores were impacted by the pandemic and school closures, 50.43% of English scores and 39.11% of math scores countywide for students met or exceeded the state standard. 

While educators throughout the state have talked about the challenges in addressing “learning loss” associated with missed class time due to various reasons associated with the pandemic, the scores released earlier this month indicate how well schools have been able to help students gain back from lost instruction time.  

Newhall School District 

In Newhall, 66.76% of students met or exceeded the state average in English language arts, and 62.38% met or exceeded the state standard in math. 

Those scores represent an increase in both categories compared to 2021-22, when 66.20% met the standard in English and 61.87% in math. 

Longtime board member Sue Solomon said she was proud of the district’s scores — the highest in both English and math of the local districts — and praised the work of Superintendent Leticia Hernandez and her team and their tireless work in addressing any gaps that may exist in the district’s instructional programming, in order to best serve students. 

“As they told us,” Solomon said Tuesday in a phone interview, “we’re already doing good things, and now we’re going to do great things.”  

Saugus Union School District 

The report card for SUSD students showed 63.75% of them met or exceeded the state standards for English language arts and 59.24% met the mark for math.   

The scores indicated the district made gains in math, with students' scores overall rising about 2% over last year’s 57.28% for 2021-22.  

The English language arts scores remained almost the same as the previous year, when 64.69% of students met or exceeded the state standard.    

While most school districts are still working to achieve at the levels they did prior to their pre-pandemic scores, SUSD has improved on math, improving on 2018-19’s scores, when 56.06% of students met or exceeded the state standard. Its English language arts scores did not yet quite return to the 66.78% of 2018-19. 

SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins said she was proud the district was able to be one of four in the state to increase its math scores two years in a row. She also said she’d like to see students do even better, which is why the district’s teaching staff and administration were working hard collaboratively on professional learning communities, she said.  

“We are seeing the necessary systematic work being done in our classrooms to help our students overcome the learning loss that happened because of the pandemic,” SUSD board President Katherine Cooper said in a recent statement. “While we know that we have additional steps to take to see the achievement levels grow, we know that our teachers, school staff and administrators are doing the hard work to ensure our students rise.” 

The strategy gives teachers across different school sites time each week to work together to draw up lesson plans and discuss together what works best based on their experiences, and then get together and assess how things went. 

An effort the district has made to address chronic absenteeism has also helped, Hawkins said, adding the district has reduced the number of students who miss at least 10% of the days in which they are enrolled in the district — the Department of Education definition of a chronic absentee — by 1% so far this year. It’s another step in the right direction, but not yet the goal, she said, adding the figure was about 5% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but reached a peak of about 13% during the pandemic. 

Sulphur Springs Union School District 

SSUSD students’ scores still reflected the biggest impacts from learning loss, with slightly less than half, 49.03%, having met or exceeded the state standard for English language arts, while 38.91% met the state standard in math. 

The scores reflect a slight dip from last year, when 50.17% met the state standard for English, and 39.22% of students did so for math. 

In 2018-19, Sulphur Springs’ scores were closer to the SCV’s other districts, with 60.29% of students meeting the state standard in English language arts, and 49.8% doing so in math.  

Catherine Kawaguchi, superintendent of the Sulphur Springs Union School District, said staff are working hard with additional professional development to help students facing some of the challenges associated with learning loss during the pandemic. 

Sharing a problem mentioned by multiple districts, Kawaguchi also said attendance and absenteeism has been a challenge for SSUSD schools. It’s a problem that presents a twofold challenge: Students who miss time tend to have a harder time catching up, and the district takes a hit in the pocketbook from the state when students don’t attend class. 

“We do know that attendance was a factor in the scores being lower (last year), but this year, we really started out strong. We're already seeing increases in attendance with our students,” Kawaguchi said. “And I do want to thank our parents as well because they are partners in that and they have been very supportive about getting their children ready and at school on time.”  

Castaic Union School District 

Castaic district officials reported a trend seen throughout the SCV, where students’ scores rose in math and fell in English.  

“While we did not see huge growth overall, there are still lots of areas to celebrate,” wrote Castaic Superintendent Bob Brauneisen in an email. “Our subgroups, including English learners, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students, are all making growth in math.” 

Almost 56% of Castaic students met or exceeded the state standard in English language arts (55.51%) and 43.28% did so in math. 

The scores represented a slight dip in the English scores from 2021-22, when 58.71% met the state’s standard. The math scores rose about a half-point this past year, up from 42.65% in 2021-22. 

Just as in other districts and most around the state, the district is working to reach its pre-pandemic scores. In 2018-19, 61.52% and 46.17% of students met the standards in English and math, respectively. 

Another gain the district celebrated is a more than 16% reduction in students who are considered chronically absent, or students who miss 10% or more of the time for which they are enrolled in a district. That not only equates to significantly more class time, where pre- and post-pandemic scores appear to indicate at least some correlation to positive outcomes, the gained attendance represents significant revenue recovered for the district, which can support more staff and programming. 

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