Thursday, August 8, 2013

San Diego Unified Tops State's Big District in English Language Arts, Science Scores

Overall results mirror slim gains statewide as achievement gap persists

Students in the San Diego Unified School District performed better than their counterparts in the other large California school districts on English Language Arts and Science tests in 2012, according to results of the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments released today by the California Department of Education.

However, across the state scores "slipped by a fraction of a percentage point this year as schools dealt with ongoing budget reductions and the transition to the Common Core State Standards," state Supt. Tom Torlakson said in prepared remarks. San Diego Unified's results showed little gain or loss.

The data show that among the state's largest school districts, San Diego Unified has the top scores in English Language Arts and NCLB Science; San Francisco and Garden Grove are the next in line. Other large districts used in the comparison are those in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, San Bernardino, Sacramento and Oakland.

"Our scores this year reflect the leveling off that has been seen around the state," said Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education president. "Despite draconian budget cuts over the last six years, our teachers and students have remained focused on teaching and learning. Now it appears those billions of dollars in budget cuts are starting to catch up with us."

Evans noted that the budget pressures are easing with the Governor's new Local Control Funding Formula, which will allow local districts more discretion over spending, and the additional funds which will come from last year's passage of Prop. 30.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but I believe that the new funding sources will allow us to resume the past momentum," he said.

The challenge of eliminating the achievement gaps between ethnic groups continues. For example, in English Language Arts, Hispanics showed a slight gain, while other groups showed a slight loss; all of the losses and gains across the various subjects were less than 2 percent.

"We're looking forward to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which will help students think more critically and deeply," said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Deputy Superintendent School Support Services. "This will ensure a strong and consistent education for all students."

Superintendent Cindy Marten said the test scores show the district is on the right track.

"You can't judge us alone by our test scores, but comparing us to other, similar large districts certainly shows the hard work done by everyone at San Diego Unified," she said. "These scores will help us focus our work on creating quality schools in every neighborhood; I call on all San Diegans to do what they can to help us build a great district."