More than half the students in Sonoma County missed the mark on California’s English standardized test, and even more did poorly on math.
About two-thirds of students failed to meet or exceed the math standards, making little gains from the previous year. Their peers around the state didn’t fare much better on both tests, according to results released Wednesday.
Statewide, 3.2 million students in third through eighth grade and 11th grade this spring took the so-called California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. Of them, 48.6 percent met or exceeded standards on the English language arts test, while 37.6 percent did on the math test.
In Sonoma County, 48.6 percent tested proficient in English. In math, 36.6 percent met or exceeded standards.
Results changed little compared to the previous year when 49 percent of students in the county met or exceeded English standards, and 36 percent met or exceeded on math.
State math numbers climbed slightly from last year, when 37 percent of students tested proficient. The number is higher than the 33 percent in 2015, when California first started administering the computerized tests.
“It is particularly encouraging to see progress in student math scores on these new and challenging exams,” Sonoma County schools superintendent Steven Herrington said in a statement. “At the same time, much work remains to be done to close the achievement gap and have all students performing at high levels.”
The new math test is particularly a challenge for students, who no longer get to pick multiple-choice answers, but rather have to explain how they arrived at an answer, said Jennie Snyder, SCOE’s deputy superintendent of instructional services.
“It really calls upon students to not only be able to apply procedures to solve problems, but apply their mathematical thinking,” she said. “All of those require higher-order thinking.”
State education officials released the results a month late after discovering discrepancies. The test is supposed to measure whether younger students are on track and older ones prepared for college or careers after graduation.
It bases follow-up questions on a student’s answers. If the student answer a question right, succeeding questions get harder until a wrong answer, which makes the next one easier. Test scores fall in one of four categories: “standard not met,” “standard nearly met,” “standard met” and “standard exceeded.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded students for maintaining the progress made since the testing was rolled out. However, he encouraged students, teachers and parents to work harder to close the achievement gaps.
“It’s important to remember that these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests,” Torlakson said in a statement. “We are asking more of our students, but for a good reason — so they are better prepared for the world of college and careers.”
Snyder said there’s also work to be done in the county to close the achievement gap. About 34 percent of Latinos countywide tested proficient in English standards this year, while 23 percent did in math.
The numbers were much lower for Sonoma County’s largest school district, Santa Rosa City Schools.
About 20.6 percent of Latinos in the elementary school grades tested proficient in English, compared to 32.2 at the high school level. In math, the numbers were lower at 16.6 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively.