Sonoma County Maintains Progress in Third Year of CAASPP Testing
Final results for the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), released September 27, showed that Sonoma County student scores remained steady and maintained the gains students made in 2016. This was consistent with student performance statewide.
This year, the third year of CAASPP testing, more than 37,000 Sonoma County students in grades 3-8 and 11 took the exams. Sonoma County results showed gains in math: the percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard ticked up to 36.6 from 36 percent the year prior. In English language arts (ELA), the percent of Sonoma County students meeting or exceeding the standard was 48.6, compared with 49 percent in 2016.
“It is particularly encouraging to see progress in student math scores on these new and challenging exams,” said Steven Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. “At the same time, much work remains to be done to close the achievement gap and have all students performing at high levels.”
Understanding the Results
The CAASPP tests gauge student learning in math and ELA. They’re designed to help schools and teachers identify areas where they are serving students well, in addition to areas where they need to adjust instruction to better help all students succeed.
The exams are administered in a new way, replacing the old fill-in-the-bubble method of the STAR test with computerized exams that require students to be fluent in technology. For each grade level and subject area, students receive a score ranging from around 2,000 to 3,000. The overall scores fall into one of four achievement levels: Standard Exceeded, Standard Met, Standard Nearly Met, and Standard Not Met.
Dr. Herrington emphasized that these tests are only one way of tracking individual student performance and should be used along with student projects, portfolios, progress reports, and interim assessments given throughout the school year.
These tests are also just one of many measures of school and district success in the state’s new accountability system, along with college and career readiness, the high school graduation rate, and others. Sonoma County’s high school graduation rate was at a high of 84.4 percent in 2017. Detailed information about school and district performance can be found at caschooldashboard.org.
County and State Comparison
Sonoma County results were in keeping with statewide scores. The percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard in ELA was the same at the county and state level —48.6 percent.
In math, Sonoma County students performed slightly below the state average of 37.6 percent of students that met or exceeded the standards. In Sonoma County, 36.6 percent of students met or exceeded the standard.
Achievement Gap Remains
The tests highlighted that an achievement gap has narrowed since the first year of CAASPP testing, but still remains high. There was a 30 point difference between the percent of economically disadvantaged students who met or exceeded the standard in ELA and the percent of students who were not economically disadvantaged who met or exceeded the standard. In math, there was a 27 point difference. A similar achievement gap existed between white and Latino students, the two largest ethnic student groups in Sonoma County. These disparities were not unique to Sonoma County. Indeed, Sonoma County’s achievement gap between economic groups was smaller than that of the state overall.
Dr. Herrington said schools are studying results and looking for ways to increase achievement for all students while also narrowing the achievement gap. He said that the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) will be working closely with school districts in 2017-18 to support their efforts.
“These test scores provide schools an entry point into a collaborative, honest conversation about how to improve their practices to best prepare students to graduate and succeed in college, careers, and life,” he said.
He also encouraged parents to use the tests as an opportunity to identify and advocate for their children’s learning needs. More information for parents is available at testscoreguide.org.