Student Achievement in California: Ed Trust—West Statement on 2013 STAR Data

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OAKLAND, CA (August 8, 2013) – The Education Trust——West issued the following statement in response to the release of the 2013 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results by the California Department of Education (CDE) today:

“”The results of the 2013 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) were released today and show that California students’’ progress is stagnant across grades and subjects and has even declined slightly in certain areas. Unfortunately, the percentage of students scoring at or above proficient decreased slightly in English-language arts and mathematics from 2012 to 2013. In addition to this lack of progress, we are disheartened by the stubborn gaps that continue to separate economically disadvantaged, Latino, and African-American students from their more advantaged and white peers. The achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers remains persistent. In English-language arts, 44 percent of students qualifying for free- or reduced-price meals were proficient compared to 74 percent of middle- and high-income students. In mathematics, the gap that has existed for the past ten years between low-income students and their more advantaged peers did not change from 2012 to 2013. Specifically, low-income students demonstrated no progress, and the percent of English learners scoring proficient decreased by 1 point.

Assessments from the STAR inform schools, teachers, parents, students and policymakers about the quality of their local public schools as well as the strengths and areas of growth in the system and in student understanding. The recent push in the legislature with AB 484 to suspend, either temporarily or permanently, all assessments except those that are federally mandated for accountability purposes would eliminate critical student performance data. Without an objective second grade test, for example, parents, teachers, and policymakers will not have early warning signs of academic needs or an accurate measure of early achievement gaps. At the high school level, suspending various assessments, including end-of-course assessments in math, science, and world history, will prevent students and their families from accessing vital information about how well prepared students are for college and career. Finally, suspending these assessments will impair the ability of parents and educators to determine an Englishlearner’’s progress in academic content, disrupt English learner reclassification, and curtail efforts to prevent inappropriate referrals to special education and determine eligibility for special education services.

California is in the midst of a large-scale transition to the new Common Core assessments. However, the transition to Common Core does not justify eliminating important assessments that provide critical information to parents, educators, and other stakeholders. In suspending or eliminating such a broad array of assessments, AB 484 fails to recognize the strengths of California’’s current system and the needs of parents, educators, and policymakers to have reliable information on student achievement.

Given students’’ lack of academic progress this year, greater urgency across the state to support growth and achievement is needed. Fortunately, we can utilize the Common Core standards and recent increases in funding to improve educational opportunities for all students in California, and especially those who have the greatest needs.” 

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About The Education Trust—West
The Education Trust——West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.