Press Release

Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, today issued the following statement in response to the release of 2019 results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)


“We have to do much better, much faster.”

“At the rate we’re going, my five-year-old-son will be old enough to be a grandparent before California achieves educational justice for low-income students and underrepresented students of color. That’s simply not good enough. We have to do much better, much faster. Today’s assessment results should be a wake-up call for educators and advocates across the state to recommit to accelerating progress in true partnership with communities.

Districts and schools should immediately adopt proven, equity-focused best practices. And policymakers must urgently address the systemic failures that stand in the way of educational justice. For example, today’s results show that just 27% of low-income students, 21% of African American students, 28% of Latinx students, and 13% of English learners are meeting math standards. We know that’s not because of lack of ability but because, as a state, we have not invested in the supports students need to succeed. Students in high-poverty schools, which tend to serve more students of color, have dramatically less access to highly qualified STEM teachers and crucial coursework such as calculus or computer science. California needs a plan to prepare, recruit, and retain many more STEM teachers — especially women and teachers of color — now. And we need to reject efforts — such as the proposal to change CSU admission requirements — that would double down on these inequities.

As a state, we have taken some good, initial steps, including renewed focus on bilingual education and teacher diversity, improved funding formulas, and strengthened protections for undocumented students and families. But today is a painful reminder that we’re crawling forward when we need to be sprinting.”


Among the key results of the 2019 CAASPP:

  • Overall, 51% of students are meeting English-Language Arts (ELA) standards and 40% are meeting Math standards; this represents only a 1 percentage point increase in both Math and ELA from last year.
  • Math and ELA scores have increased 7 percentage points over the last 5 years for all students, closely mirroring the change for underrepresented students of color and low-income students. However, improvement for English learners has been much slower — just 2 percentage points in 5 years across both subjects. 
  • At the current rate of Math improvement, all Latinx students won’t be proficient until 2071, and all African American students won’t be proficient until 2118. 
  • Improvement has been stagnant in particular grades across years and subjects. In 11th grade Math and ELA, the percentage of students meeting standards has increased just 1-3 percentage points since 2014-15, but a closer look reveals flat or declining performance for particular groups. For example, Math scores for African American students increased less than 1 percentage point and ELA scores actually declined slightly. 
  • Across most grades and subjects this year, significant gaps remain between student groups. For example, 1 in 10 English learners met Math standards compared to 4 in 10 English Only students. Four in 10 low-income students met ELA standards compared to 7 in 10 non-low income students.