SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT:  Maureen Bradford

 (310)-450-8338, x 333

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 15, 2006

 

 

SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICTS POST CONTINUING GAINS ON 2006 STAR PROGRAM RESULTS

 

On her first day as newly appointed Superintendent of Schools, Dianne Talarico proudly announced the release of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program data for the 2005-06 school year.  “The 2006 data show continuing and steady improvement in both English Language Arts and Mathematics scores for nearly every grade compared with 2005 data.  These results are part of an on-going, longitudinal increase over the past five years, with seven out of ten grade levels posting double-digit, long-term gains.”

 

Each year, students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District take a California Standards Test (CST) in English Language Arts and Mathematics.  History and Science are tested in some, but not all, grade levels.  Students attain one of five levels of performance on the CSTs for each subject tested:  Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic.  The State Board of Education has set the target for desired achievement at the Proficient level.  It is important to note that California’s standards are among the highest in the nation.

 

Tim Walker, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services remarked, “These data document strong academic growth for Santa Monica-Malibu students.  In addition, we see many indications that our efforts are resulting in narrowing achievement gaps for particular groups of students.  There are several ‘good news’ stories here, as well as areas for continued focus.”

 

Scores for Santa Monica-Malibu students on the English Languages Arts CST are presented below for each grade for 2002, 2005 and 2006.  One year and five year gains are also indicated.

 

English Language Arts CSTs

Percent of Students Proficient or Advanced

 

Grade Level

2002

2005

2006

1 yr Gains (05-06)

5 yr Gains (02-06)

2

54

64

65

+1

+10

3

53

57

63

+6

+10

4

58

72

77

+5

+19

5

58

68

68

+0

+10

6

54

59

67

+8

+13

7

60

66

63

-3

+3

8

56

61

62

+1

+6

9

54

65

67

+2

+11

10

50

49

60

+11

+10

11

49

48

50

+2

+1

Math CSTs

Percent of Students Proficient or Advanced

Grade

Level

2002

2005

2006

1 yr Grains (05-06)

5 yr Gains (02-06)

2

60

74

72

-2

+12

3

54

74

72

-2

+18

4

60

67

77

+10

+17

5

53

62

68

+9

+15

6

51

54

58

+4

+7

7

48

55

56

+1

+8

 

Beginning in grade eight, students within the same grade level are enrolled in different levels of mathematics courses and therefore take different CST mathematics tests.  In Santa Monica-Malibu, we have dramatically increased the numbers of students engaged in more rigorous academic coursework in mathematics. Below are the number of 8th graders enrolled in General Math, Algebra I and Geometry over the past four years, along with the percentage of those students who performed at the Proficient or Advanced level on the Math CST.   We are especially pleased to see the number of 8th graders enrolled in Geometry rising dramatically, with 94% of those students performing at the proficient or advanced levels on the Geometry exam. 

 

 

8th Grade Math Course

2003

2004

2005

2006

 

# Enrolled

% Proficient or Advanced

# Enrolled

% Proficient or Advanced

# Enrolled

% Proficient or Advanced

# Enrolled

% Proficient or Advanced

General Math

597

35

360

46

415

21

245

24

Algebra

384

73

621

54

631

40

657

53

Geometry

5

*

4

*

72

96

107

94

 

While gains overall across the district are noteworthy, the increases for particular groups of students are even more impressive.  Santa Monica High School, for example, continues to demonstrate high levels of performance in its 9th grade English Language Arts.  This grade level has posted double-digit gains over the past three years.  In addition, 9th grade English learners and economically disadvantaged students have posted similar gains. 

 

“I definitely feel that our Smaller Learning Communities have contributed to our academic success.  The House structure builds connection for students, especially 9th graders,” commented Ruth Esseln, principal of Santa Monica High’s H House.

 

While we still have far to go in closing achievement gaps across all grade levels in all subject areas, there are indications that with high quality professional development for teachers and specific and intensive intervention programs for students, we will continue to increase the magnitude of gains for underperforming groups. 

 

For the past several years, several of our elementary schools have focused attention and resources in the area of writing.  The 4th grade CST Writing assessment indicates that these efforts are paying off.  The CST writing assessment, given in grades four and seven is a performance based, demanding test of students’ writing ability.  Fourth graders must write an essay on a given topic in one of four genres.  Neither they, nor their teachers, know what the prompt or genre will be until they open their test booklets.   The tests are scored by a panel of outside experts.  Each child’s essay is scored by two different readers.  The highest possible score is a four.  The two readers’ scores are combined, to make a 2 – 8 scale.

 

Since the inception of the writing performance test three years ago, SMMUSD’s fourth graders have made impressive gains.  In 2003, for example, 17% of students scored a 1 or a 2.  In 2006, students in this low scoring range were reduced down to 3%.  In 2003, only 6% of 4th graders scored a 6 or above, while in 2006, 40% received high marks.   These gains are especially prominent in elementary schools that have high numbers of teachers engaged in on-going professional development in writing. 

 

One final bright spot is the success of a group of fourth grade students involved in an after-school reading intervention program, Read 180.  16 of the 19 (84%) fourth graders enrolled in this program at Will Rogers moved from Below or Far Below Basic from their previous year’s CST scores to either Basic or Proficient on their 2006 tests.

 

Further data analysis will continue throughout the fall, as we compare our performance with that of the State and County, and receive word of our status with Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the No Child Left Behind federal accountability program as well as with the Academic Performance Index (API), the state’s accountability measure for school improvement.