School just started, but test scores are already out in one area — the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).The test, which measures students' mathematics and English skills, was only implemented spring of this year. How does Humboldt measure up? Not real well
Over a quarter of students in third through eighth grades do not meet the state standards for English or math. The mathematics number rises to nearly 46 percent of fifth grade students, and a full half of 11th graders. What does that mean? Well, according to the state's website, it means that half of this year's senior class will have to do a lot of catching up if they want to do well in college. Or, as the state's website puts it, these students have "not met the achievement standard and need substantial improvement to demonstrate the knowledge and skills in mathematics needed for likely success in entry-level, credit-bearing college coursework after high school."
But take heart — Humboldt students were on par with students across the state, meaning that if you're grading on a curve, we're pretty okay. The CAASPP website cautions that, since this is the first year the testing has taken place, it's to be used as more of a "starting point," a baseline for future performance. Lori Breyer, school support and accountability coordinator at the Humboldt County Office of Education, said they expected the results to be "a little bit lower, just because this is a brand new test."
The CAASPP, part of new Common Core requirements, is a successor the previously used Statewide Testing and Reporting (STAR) system. One major difference is technology: The days of #2 pencils and bubbles that have to be filled in just so are past. CAASPP testing for English and mathematics takes place online. (Science is still a paper-based test, but an online version is due in 2017.)
Breyer said the CAASPP is an improvement in some respects from the STAR testing.
"What I heard from kids, including my own daughter, is that they had fun with the test," she said. "It's engaging. It's gone away from the paper bubble to an interactive test. It's requiring some skills on how to use a computer. One of the wonderful results is a better emphasis on technology."
Breyer said that the CAASPP test has not had a stifling influence on educational methods.
"I've worked with a number of districts over the summer, their focus is not on test," she said. "The focus is, what are we doing on a daily and a weekly basis? If we're doing a good job there, we know we'll get a good score."
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