Sonoma County students remain ahead of their peers statewide in the latest round of STAR test scores, but officials warned that local students' steady gains are at risk because of current budget conditions.
Fifty-four percent of the approximately 4.7 million California students who took the Standardized Testing and Reporting program exams last spring scored proficient or advanced in English language arts, compared with 58 percent of Sonoma County's students. In math statewide, 50 percent of students scored proficient or advanced, compared with 53 percent in Sonoma County.
The state Department of Education released the data from last spring's testing season Monday, beginning a series of high stakes assessments and rankings using the results of tests given to students in grades 2 through 11.
Results released Monday are used by the state to determine each school's Academic Performance Index. School API rankings will be released in the coming weeks.
The STAR scores are also used to determine whether districts, schools and subgroups within the schools have met requirements laid out in the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Federal benchmarks rise each year until all students in all subgroups are expected to reach proficiency by 2014, a goal many educators and lawmakers say is unrealistic.
Statewide, students posted a 2 percentage point gain in English language arts over the past year and a 19-point gain since the test was first administered in 2003. In math, California's students posted a 2 percentage point gain over 2010 and a 15 percentage point increase over 2003.
"Obviously we are not saying to rest a minute. We are saying to redouble our efforts," State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson said of the state's gains.
"Just think what we could accomplish if we hadn't had $10 billion a year cut out of the schools," he said.
Countywide totals are only available going back so 2007. Since that time, Sonoma County students have jumped from 49 to 58 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts, and from 44 to 53 percent proficient or advanced in math.
Year over year, Sonoma County students remained ahead of their peers statewide nearly across the board.