The Education Trust–West Responds to Release of 2023 CAASPP Results
For Immediate Release
October 18, 2023
Contact: Jelena Hasbrouck, [email protected], 408-833-4039
The Education Trust–West Responds to Release of 2023 CAASPP Results
Oakland, CA — Dr. Christopher J. Nellum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, issued the following statement in response to the release of the 2023 results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP):
The overwhelming majority of parents of color in California want to see their children get a college degree – but yet again, this year’s CAASPP results show the state is not supporting students of color and multilingual learners to meet those aspirations.
The results across the board show no substantive movement in English Language Arts and very minimal improvement in math. Even with a roughly 1 percentage point increase in math proficiency rates for Black and Native American students and about a 2 percentage point increase in math proficiency rates for Latinx students, we still see hundreds of thousands of these students below grade level. Seeing only slight improvements in already alarmingly low levels of student achievement is cause for concern, not celebration. Perhaps even more troubling, scores on English Language Arts assessments remained essentially flat or dropped for Black, Latinx, and Native American students. And the percentage of English Learners at or above grade level in English Language Arts declined from 2021-22 to 2022-23, going from just over 12% to 11% of English Learners meeting proficiency.
Statewide assessments are one of the most important tools we have to gauge whether or not California is living up to its responsibility to help students learn and grow. In recent years, as in this year’s results, the state’s progress on student outcomes in English and math has been marginal at best. In fact, at no point in the past 9 years have we seen more than 1 out of 5 Black students at grade level in math. This trend is an indictment not of the efforts of California’s K-12 students but of the efforts and choices of the state’s adult decision-makers. California leaders could – and clearly should – call for and participate in a full-throttle infusion of political will and lead with a roll-up-our-sleeves, by any means necessary energy to boost student achievement significantly in this generation. This is the only appropriate reaction when just 1 out of 10 English Learners in the state is at grade level in math, about two-thirds of the state’s Black and Latinx students are below grade level in English Language Arts, and math proficiency rates for students of color are roughly the same as they were in 2014-15.
We recommend California’s leaders take these tangible steps in the immediate future to improve student learning:
- The California State Board of Education must approve, and district leaders must adopt, instructional materials in math that are evidence-backed, high-quality, and culturally-affirming.
- The California Department of Education and district leaders need to provide stronger professional development opportunities for math teachers that specifically focus on multilingual learners and students of color.
- California’s legislators and Governor should provide more money through the Local Control Funding Formula that is specifically targeted at improving student achievement for under-supported Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and multilingual students and require districts to better report on how they are using the funding to improve student achievement for these students.
- State leaders should provide better guidance on ethnic studies instructional practices and curriculum, a research-proven strategy for improving academic achievement for students of color.
- All of California’s leaders should do much more to prioritize recruiting and retaining teachers of color, as research shows these teachers contribute to increased student learning.
California is filled with students fully capable of achieving at high levels, families dedicated to their success, and committed, equity-minded educators, advocates, and community leaders eager to better serve students. Plenty of education organizations – including Ed Trust–West – regularly put out reports full of evidence-driven, research-backed recommendations on how to significantly boost student achievement. We don’t have a shortage of solutions in California, we have a shortage of political will and urgency. We stand ready to hear more from our state’s leaders on how they plan to address the persistent gaps in student learning, and to support equity-driven solutions sooner rather than later.
About The Education Trust–West
The Education Trust—West is an evidence-driven advocacy organization committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the California education system. For over two decades, Ed Trust—West has worked to improve racial equity in education by engaging diverse communities and increasing political and public will to build an education system where students of color and multilingual learners will thrive. For more information, see www.edtrustwest.org or follow us on X.
Among the key results of the 2023 CAASPP:
Scores remained mostly stagnant across all student groups in ELA and inched up for most groups in Math, but egregious equity gaps in outcomes that predate the pandemic persist.
- Schools supported only 30% of Black students to meet or exceed grade level standards in ELA in 2022-23, representing no substantive change from the prior year. In Math, 17% of Black students were at or above grade level in 2022-23 compared to 16% the prior year.
- In 2022-23, 36% of Latinx students tested at or above grade level in ELA, the same rate as the prior year. In Math, 23% of Latinx students were at or above grade level, compared to 21% the prior year, representing an incremental increase in the proportion of students demonstrating proficiency.
- Just over a third of American Indian and Alaskan Native students (34%) were at or above grade level in ELA in 2022-23, and 22% were at or above grade level in Math in 2022-23, representing a roughly 1 percentage point increase in the amount of Native students at/above grade level in both subjects from last year to this year.
- Schools supported fewer than half (39%) of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students to meet or exceed standards in ELA, representing a slight decrease in the percent of these students meeting proficiency compared to last year. In Math, the percent of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students meeting or exceeding standards increased very slightly from 25% to 26%.
- In ELA, 70% of Filipino students were at or above grade level in ELA in both 2021-22 and 2022-23, and the percent of Filipino students who were at or above grade level in Math increased from 54% in 2021-22 to 56% in 2022-23.
- In 2022-2023, 75% of Asian students met or exceeded standards in ELA, and 70% did so in Math, representing no substantive change from the prior year.
- In 2022-23, 61% of white students met or exceeded standards in ELA (comparable to the previous year’s rate) and 49% met or exceeded standards in Math, a slight increase from 48% the prior year.
- Nearly 20% of all students in California’s public schools are English Learners. The percent of English Learners at or above grade level in English Language Arts declined from 2021-22 to 2022-23, going from just over 12% to 11% of EL students meeting proficiency. The percent of English Learners supported to meet or exceed grade level standards in Math stayed the same, hovering around 10%.
- Students who spoke English only or who have tested as fluent in English met or exceeded grade levels at significantly higher rates than their English Learner peers, revealing entrenched opportunity gaps. About 54% of Fluent English Proficient and English Only students were at or above grade level in ELA this year and 40% of these students were at or above grade level in Math. That leaves a nearly 30 percentage point gap in Math between English Learners and their peers who are proficient in English, and a gap of over 40 percentage points in ELA proficiency rates.
- Gaps also persist for students from low-income households. In 2022-23, 35% of students from low-income households met or exceeded grade level standards in ELA, compared to 66% of their wealthier peers. Equity gaps between these students and their wealthier peers are even more glaring in math. Roughly 23% of students from low-income households met or exceeded grade-level standards in Math, less than half the proportion of students who are not economically disadvantaged who were at or above grade level (54%).