Schools’ report cards arrive
Sherman Thomas Charter sets the pace; MUSD performance sluggish overall
Although 55 percent of its students failed to meet the state’s academic achievement standard in English/language arts and 65 percent missed the mark in math, Sherman Thomas Charter School nevertheless out-performed the rest of Madera Unified’s schools on state testing for the second year in a row.
On Wednesday, the state released the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), its new annual assessment tool for measuring student progress. The battery of tests, which was taken on computers, showed a higher percentage of Sherman Thomas students meeting or exceeding the achievement standard in English and math than any other MUSD school. Forty-five percent of Sherman Thomas students made the mark in English, and 35 percent made it in math.
Berenda Elementary and Eastin-Arcola came the closest to Sherman Thomas’ performance. Berenda grabbed the No. 2 spot in English with 38 percent of its students meeting or exceeding the state standard. Eastin-Arcola placed second in math with 32 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards.
In the K-8 schools, students in grades 3 through 8 took the state test. In the elementary schools, students in grades 3 through 6 took the test, and in the middle schools, 7th and 8th graders took the test. In the high schools, the test was administered only in the 11th grade.
Although most Madera schools made modest improvements over last year’s test scores, it was not enough to lift the district out of the cellar when compared with neighboring school districts. In 2015, 25 percent of Madera Unified students performed at grade level or above in English/language arts. In 2016, that percentage rose to 27 percent.
The math scores in 2016 over 2015 showed no increase at all. In 2015, 16 percent of the students were at grade level or above. In 2016, the percentage was the same.
In an interview Friday with The Madera Tribune, Gonzalez said the “CAASPP scores are a disappointment ... Clearly we did not do an adequate job in preparing our students to take a computer-based adaptive test.”
Gonzalez went on to say that the district is making great strides with kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students. He said the percentage of K-2 students reading at or above grade level soared from 38 to 58 percent last year.
California does not test K-2 students in its annual testing program.
Gonzalez also stated that additional technology is being placed in the classrooms, which will help the students become even more familiar with the testing format.
Beginning in 2015, students took the state’s annual tests on computers and were required to demonstrate much deeper thinking and reasoning skills. The results were then machine scored and some new language was used to communicate those results for English/language arts and math.
Each student received a numerical score in each subject. That score was then translated into one of four levels of achievement for each grade level: Exceeded Standard; Met Standard; Nearly Met Standard; or Did Not Meet Standard.
According to Sacramento, these designations come with a much higher level of confidence that the individual student’s abilities have been measured accurately because the tests are “adaptive,” which means they measure what the students know rather than what they don’t know.
When the students took the computer generated test, if a response was correct, the student’s next question became more difficult. If the student response was incorrect, the next question was less difficult.
In this way, the tests were able to follow the student to his/her true achievement level in each subject.
State schools chief Tom Torlakson, who describes the new reporting system as “smarter and balanced,” says it will “gauge student progress in learning new, more rigorous academic standards designed to prepare them for college and careers in the 21st century.”
A comparison of eight Valley school districts puts Madera Unified at the bottom, both in terms of improvement over the previous year and percentage at grade level this year. Percentage of Students at Grade Level: School District English-2015/2016 Math-2015/2016 Central Unified 31/39 24/26 Clovis Unified 60-67 50/54 Fresno Unified 27/31 18/22 Golden Valley 54/58 39/42 Kerman Unified 37/45 21/26 Madera Unified 25/27 16/16 Sanger Unified 44/47 35/37 Selma Unified 42/42 20/21
Elementary Scores: Percentage of students at or above grade level English/Language Arts Math Alpha 15 14 Berenda 38 26 Chavez 20 14 Dixieland 34 24 Eastin Arcola 34 32 Sherman Thomas 45 35 Eziekiel Tafoya 31 16 Washington 18 10 Howard 28 22 Madison 11 12 Monroe 22 18 Adams 37 20 Pershing 29 24 La Vina 30 27 Lincoln 32 23 Millview 17 14 Nishimoto 22 18 Parkwood 17 15 Sierra Vista 17 12 Middle School Scores: Percentage of students at or above grade level English/Language Arts Math Thomas Jefferson 39 20 Desmond 32 12 MLK 22 6 High School Scores: Percentage of students at or above grade level (Grade 11 only) Madera High 51 26 Madera South High 37 10