Tahoe earns average rank in statewide academic tests | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe earns average rank in statewide academic tests

William Ferchland

Students in Lake Tahoe Unified School District matched the state average in English and mathematics on standardized tests taken last school year, according to results released Monday.

The California Department of Education issued results from the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, calculated from three tests.

The exams will be tied to No Child Left Behind, which has a goal for all students to achieve marks away from lesser scores of basic, below basic and far below basic to proficient or advanced.

The test compiles the results of two tests given to students in grades 2-11 and measures how well students are learning California’s academic standards.

Gains were made by the district’s elementary students in language arts and all students contributed to an average increase in math, stated assistant superintendent Barbara Davis.

One bright point was the gains by second-graders who are English learners, Davis said.

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“Four years ago, the gap between all second-graders and our English learners was 26 points,” she said. “This year the gap was cut in half.”

English learners in South Tahoe middle and high schools didn’t fare as well, Davis said. Out of grades 6-8, only 2 percent of 87 English learners in eighth grade scored proficient or above in English-language arts. Four percent of 70 English learners in sixth grade scored in the proficient range in the math section.

Davis said steps are being taken to improve the scores.

“We will continue to train staff in instructional strategies to meet the needs of these students at our secondary schools,” she said. “For the past several years the majority of funding designated for training has been used for effective language instruction.”

The overall statewide results displeased Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. Although progress was made, it wasn’t the big jump O’Connell desired.

“This is not where we want to be. This is not where we hoped to be,” he said.

Scott Plotkin, executive director of the California School Boards Association, had similar words.

“The STAR results are a bit of a mixed bag,” he said. “The scores do reveal an upward trend in achievement, though not as dramatic as we’d have liked.”

More encouraging, O’Connell said, were the results of the California High School Exit Exam, which showed that three-quarters of the class of 2006 passed the English portion and 74 percent passed the math test.

But those results, which came after officials delayed the test and made it easier, also showed that California special education students and English language learners still struggle with the test.

By comparison, South Tahoe High School had 80 percent of its sophomore class pass the English section and 85 percent nailed the math test.

“We are thrilled with this year’s results,” Davis said of the high school exit exam.

California graduates, starting with the approximately 450,000 members of the class of 2006, are required to pass both the math and English tests to get a diploma. Students have several attempts to pass both portions before they graduate.

Scores can be viewed at http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2004/viewreport.asp

– The Associated Press contributed to the article. E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.