Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Statewide English Scores as Testing Gains Continue at San Diego Unified

State test scores gained for the fifth straight year for students in the San Diego Unified School District, according to results released today by the state Department of Education, with San Diego Unified now having the highest English Language Arts scores of any large urban district in California.

Across-the-board increases were seen in the four subjects tested: English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social sciences, as more students now have knowledge rated "proficient" or "advanced," the top two rankings in the California Standards Test. Overall, students testing proficient or advanced on the test increased by: English, 3 points over 2010 and 14 points since 2007; mathematics up 2 points from last year and 12 since 2007. California's standard for students is that they have a proficient or advanced knowledge of the subject (the other levels are basic, below basic and far below basic).

"All of us in San Diego and in California owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our school communities," said Richard Barrera, president of the San Diego Unified Board of Education. "Facing the worst financial crisis to ever hit public education, our teachers, principals, support staff, parents and students continue to keep their focus and make clear, steady progress in educating California's next generation.

"Now it's up to the rest of us to pull together and do our part to support public education and the heroes in our local school communities."

Superintendent Bill Kowba also lauded the effort.

"I congratulate all of our students, teachers and staff for this outstanding result," said Kowba. "This continued progress comes despite some of the most trying times in the long history of our district, as the budget has had significant cuts each of these years."

San Diego Unified overtook San Francisco Unified for the top spot in English Language Arts proficiency, with 59 percent of students showing proficient or advanced knowledge of the subject. Last year, San Diego and San Francisco tied at 56.

Other large-district scores include: Los Angeles, 44 percent; Fresno, 39 percent, and Sacramento, 49 percent.

These test scores are closely watched as a barometer of the achievement gap -- the difference in test scores between ethnic groups. There was a narrowing of the gap in English language arts, as Hispanic students showed a 16 percent gain and African Americans rose 13 percent since 2007, outpacing the 12 point rise shown by White students. Still, students testing proficient or advanced numbered 44 percent for Hispanics and 46 percent for African Americans, well behind the White score of 81 percent.

"Our efforts continue to bring student achievement up for all ethnic groups, especially Hispanics and African-Americans," said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Deputy Superintendent for Academics. "We continue to work not only with our teachers and staff, but the San Diego community to find local solutions to this national problem."

Individual schools showed significant increases in English language arts over 2010. Among elementary schools, Marvin Elementary had the largest jump, with 80.6 percent of the students now proficient or advanced, up from 65.6 in 2010. Roosevelt Middle increased to 55.9 from 47.6; and San Diego High School of the Arts to 34.7 from 23.5.

Statewide, San Diego Unified was also near the top of the list of largest districts in other tested areas. In mathematics, San Diego's 51 percent proficient or advanced was topped only by Garden Grove with 60 and San Francisco with 56. Other districts' scores include: Sacramento, 49; Los Angeles, 43; Oakland, 45; and San Bernardino, 38.

Overall science scores (combined grades 5, 8 and 10 science tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act) put San Diego Unified at 61 percent proficient or advanced, tied with San Francisco. Garden Grove topped the list with 64 percent. A sampling of other districts' scores: Los Angeles, 46 percent, Fresno and San Bernardino, 40 percent; and Sacramento, 48 percent.

For more details on the scores and tests, go the California Department of Education website at