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Students making progress

Lake Tahoe Unified School District students improved last year in all subject areas, according to STAR test results released last week.

South Tahoe Middle School, which scored well below state average in 1999-2000, was included in this year’s top 10 schools in El Dorado County which showed the greatest improvement on Stanford-9 reading scores between 1998 and 2001.

“The middle school made significant gains, which is great news since they were underachieving last year,” Assistant Superintendent Barbara Davis said. “For example, reading scores in sixth grade have shown an improvement of 12 points over four years and nine of those points are from this year.”



Lake Tahoe Unified scored slightly lower than the state average for spelling but has shown overall improvement since the test’s implementation in 1998.

“We are still slightly below the state average in spelling, even though we’ve adopted a spelling program that’s been implemented in K through eight,” Davis said. “So we’re wondering what more we can do. We plan to contact some of the schools with similar demographics and look into what programs they’re using so we can improve those scores further. We’ve improved from four to 14 points over four years in spelling, so we’re showing gains. We’re just not seeing that happen as fast as we’d like to.”



Second- through fifth-graders, districtwide, were between four and eight points below the state average for spelling. While the majority of the district’s schools, individually, have consistently improved STAR scores, South Tahoe High School is under-performing in reading and language, Davis said.

“We’ve been there before (with spelling) but we are making gains each year. Of course, so is the state,” Davis said. “Now the high school, well, high schools statewide, are under-performing in reading and language. We’d like to see ours improve. We want our kids to be able to read.”

Davis said the district plans to continue emphasizing reading in early grades.

Individual Stanford-9 scores will reflect a percentile ranking for student performance, compared to statewide achievement. Scores will be mailed to parents of South Tahoe High students, and other Lake Tahoe Unified schools will send reports home with students at the start of the school year.

Davis is available to meet with parents Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the district office board room to discuss scores, interpret reports and answer questions. The district office is located at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.

The STAR test, which is given each spring to all second- through 11th-graders in California, has three parts:

n The Standardized Testing and Reporting program uses the Stanford Achievement Test, ninth edition, Form T, also known as the Stanford-9. It compares California students to a national sample, by Harcourt Educational Measurements.

n Testing includes additional questions developed by Harcourt, based on California’s standards outlining proficiency at each grade level.

n The Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, second edition, known as SABE-2, compares Spanish-speaking students to a national sample in language arts and math. Lake Tahoe Unified administers this test to students who have been in the country less than one year.

New to this year’s testing program is essay writing for fourth and seventh grades and standards-based tests in social studies and science for high school.

Last year’s Stanford-9 and language arts standards scores will be used to calculate each school’s 2001 Academic Performance Index this fall. API rankings are based on schoolwide performance on the Stanford-9 Scores and are decided according to how much schools improve from one year to the next. Using a point system, students’ results are averaged, making up each school’s API.

Source: staff and wire.


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