STAR tests show Pleasanton schools continue to improve | August 19, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 19, 2011

STAR tests show Pleasanton schools continue to improve

Students score above state, county averages

By Glenn Wohltmann

Students in the Pleasanton school district scored above both the state and the Alameda County averages in STAR scores released this week for the 2010-11 school year.

Cindy Galbo, assistant superintendent of educational services, said the results for STAR, which stands for Standardized Testing and Results, show the district is continuing to improve in most academic areas.

Nearly 83% are proficient in English, although third-graders scored significantly lower than the rest of the district.

In history, 78.7% are proficient or advanced. Math had scores above average at 72.4%.

"We had 247 students take Algebra 1 in seventh grade. Out of 247, 244 were proficient or advanced," Galbo said. "We had 157 eighth-graders take geometry -- usually they take it in ninth or 10th grade -- all 157 were proficient or advanced."

She said that the district also does well in science, with 90% of kids proficient or advanced.

There are still problem areas, however, which the district has already begun to address.

"We continue to see our subgroups -- our African American and Hispanic kids, our students with disabilities and socio-economically disadvantaged -- they are performing below average across the board," Galbo said.

While the results show many growth areas, there are some drops: second- and fourth-grade English scores have dropped, as have fourth- and sixth-grade math scores. English scores have risen for seventh- and eleventh-graders, and eleventh-grade history scores have gone up as well.

Galbo acknowledged that some scores seem to depend on when a course is taken. For example, while 100% of the eighth-grade students who took geometry ahead of schedule did well, 81% of those who took it in ninth grade, when the course is usually taken, were advanced or proficient, while 15% of 10th-graders and 13% of 11th-graders who took the course were proficient or advanced.

STAR also showed a drop in physics scores for both 10th- and 11th-graders. In 2010, 97% of 10th-grade students tested at proficient or advanced; this year, that number dropped to 82%. Eleventh-grade scores dropped from 89% proficient or advanced to 83%.

In history, 78.7% are proficient or advanced. Math and science also showed scores above average, at 72.4% and 86.3%, respectively.


Posted by slovespa, a resident of Dublin
on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Standardized testing - ha! It's like circumcision, you let your kid participate so he won't be seen as different. Each year the written questions are different, anywhere from analytical to autobiographical essays. Which do you think is easier? They tell teachers not to teach to the test yet they "encourage" teachers to only cover the specific standards that the test is created from. Teaching is a lost art. Remember California in the 70s and 80s when teachers had lifetime credentials, brought guitars into the classrooms and we all ended up at UC campus'? Now text book companies compete for dollars and principals forfeit common sense for district wide procedures. They're too worried about getting sued to treat the students as individuals, and standardized testing just feeds that curriculum.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

If you knew anything about the test, you'd know that they are aligned with all of the California State standards. Some aren't tested on as much as others, but either way it doesn't mean that teachers should be "teaching to the test." A great teacher can teach the curriculum and have his/her class well prepared by the time the tests come along.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I'm a firm believer in standardized testing as an important part of an overall program of quality control in education; but I also firmly believe that if you teach the material well, your students should have no problem with any test you or anyone else puts in front of them. If you teach the test, on the other hand, you fail to prepare the kids to actually use the material being tested, not to mention the material that doesn't make it into the test.