Student Achievement in California: Ed Trust—West Statement on 2010 STAR Data


OAKLAND, CA (August 16, 2010) – Results from the 2010 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) released today by the California Department of Education (CDE) show marginal statewide improvement across most grade levels and content areas.  Since last year, the percentage of students at or above the proficient level increased by two points in English-language arts (ELA) and two points in mathematics.  While there have been measured gains over the last eight years, we still have much work to do.

  • Forty-eight percent of California’s students are not proficient in English-language arts (ELA) and more than half, 52 percent, are not proficient in mathematics.
  • Latino 4th graders have steadily improved their performance in mathematics, increasing 27 percentage points since 2003 and narrowing the Latino-White achievement gap to 19 points.
  • English Learners gained 5 percentage points in 4th grade mathematics from 2009 to 2010, but they still trail their peers by 23 percentage points (52% compared to 75%).

“Once again, the STAR results present two different storylines of student achievement in California,” said Dr. Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color and students in poverty. “The first storyline is one of overall gains made by students over the last eight years.  The second is of the persistent achievement gaps and unacceptable results for Latino and African-American students and students in poverty.  Our state’s leaders should not be patting themselves on the back when the majority of our student population is not performing at grade-level.”

The results of the data reveal that proficiency rates remain low, gaps remain large, and progress remains slow:

  • Forty percent of African-American, Latino, and low-income students reached proficiency in 8th grade English-language arts, compared to 71 percent of their white and more affluent peers.
  • Sixty-one percent of African-American and 54 percent of Latino students did not reach basic levels of proficiency in Algebra I.  These rates demonstrate little improvement from 2003, where 68 percent of African-American and 63 percent of Latino students performed below basic levels.
  • Algebra II proficiency rates remain abysmally low for both African-American (14%) and Latino (20%) students in a course required for entrance into public universities in California.
  • African-American 11th graders have improved less than one point per year in English-language arts and only 28 percent reached proficiency in 2010.  Achievement gaps in 11th grade ELA for African-American and low-income students have actually widened by 3 percentage points since 2003.

“After eight years, these storylines are getting old,” continued Ramanathan.  “We are long past the time of applauding meager gains and acknowledging the existence of achievement gaps.  It is time to move beyond rhetoric and into concrete solutions that will close the gap between the tremendous potential of our students and the opportunities we afford them.  This means finding ways to ensure that all students are taught by an effective teacher and have access to a quality neighborhood school,” he concluded.

# # #


About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, kindergarten through college, and to forever close the achievement gaps separating low-income students and students of color from other youth. Our basic tenet is this— All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels.

More Posts

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.