Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dixie School District Outshines County Average on Standardized Testing

The California Department of Education released statewide results Friday. Compared to the rest of Marin County, Dixie School District performed higher than the average in most subjects, and San Rafael City Schools performed lower. By Nicole Ely and Jennifer van der Kleut - August 31, 2012

Results of STAR tests from schools across California were released Friday morning by the California Department of Education.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson sent out a glowing statement, touting how statewide scores in math and English-language arts have risen for the ninth year in a row.
“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient, to better than one student in two,” Torlakson said. “That’s nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003 - a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.”
Torlakson said the achievement is even more noteworthy considering how badly California schools are struggling financially these days.
“Even more remarkable is the fact that our students continue to make gains even as our schools and the teachers, administrators and school employees working in them are getting by with so much less,” Torlakson said. “As pleased as I am by the great progress many students are making, the deep school budget cuts of recent years make it ever less likely these gains will continue.”
Results for 2012 rose 3 percentage points over last year in English-language arts, and 1 percentage point in mathematics. Since 2003, the scores have risen 22 points in English-language arts - or from 35 to 57 percent scoring “proficient” or “advanced" - and 16 percentage points in math, or from 35 to 51 percent.
However, Torlakson said, while the STAR results show an increase in proficiency levels among all subgroups, a “persistent achievement gap” exists for African American, Latino, English-learner and low-income students, compared to their peers.
“Like every teacher, parent, and principal, despite the decade of progress we’ve seen, I won’t be completely satisfied until every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential,” Torlakson said.
But first, a little background.
“STAR” stands for Standardized Testing and Reporting.
The STAR tests consists of the following four components:
  • “CST,” or California Standards Test
  • “CMA,” or California Modified Assessment
  • “CAPA,” or California Alternate Performance Assessment
  • “STS,” or Standards-based Tests in Spanish
According to the Department of Education, the CSTs for English–language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and history–social science are administered only to students in California public schools. Except for a writing component that is administered as part of the fourth-grade and seventh-grade ELA tests, all questions are multiple-choice.
The CA DOE’s website explains, “These tests were developed specifically to assess students' knowledge of the California content standards. The State Board of Education adopted these standards, which specify what all children in California are expected to know and be able to do in each grade or course. “
CST scores are used for calculating each school's Academic Performance Index (API) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores.
Information about the API and AYP is posted on the CA DOE’s Accountability Progress Reporting website at
The Dixie Elementary School District performed better than the county average in all four major areas of study – English-language arts, history, mathematics, and the Science CST. However, San Rafael City Schools were behind the county average. See the average results for the district and the county below.
English-Language Arts (Grades 2-8):
San Rafael Elementary School District
  • Students with scores: 2,862
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 31.1
Dixie Elementary
  • Students with scores: 1,359
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 43.1
  • Marin County students with scores: 16,229
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 39.1
History (Grades 8):
San Rafael Elementary School District
  • Students with scores: 349
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 28.5
Dixie Elementary
  • Students with scores: 200
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 41.0
  • Marin County students with scores: 2,154
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 36.5
Mathematics (Grades 2-7):
San Rafael Elementary School District
  • Students with scores: 2,534
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 31.9
Dixie Elementary
  • Students with scores: 1,134
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 40.7
  • Marin County students with scores: 13,989
  • Marin percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 38.3
Science CST (Grades 5 and 8):
San Rafael Elementary School District
  • Students with scores: 331
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 38.0
Dixie Elementary
  • Students with scores: 359
  • Average percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 44.0
  • Marin County students with scores: 4,405
  • Marin percent scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’: 40.8