Results from the 2019 California Assessments of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) reveal that Piedmont schools continue to excel among unified school districts in the state. PUSD ranks second in the state — and first in Northern California — in the percentage of students who either met or exceeded the standards in mathematics. PUSD ranks third in the state — and first in Northern California — in the percentage of students who either met or exceeded the standards in English language arts/literacy. Director of Instructional Technology Stephanie Griffin shared the results with the School Board at its meeting on Oct. 23.
“This is the fifth year in a row that we are one of the top three unified school districts in the state and the number one unified school district in Northern California,” said Griffin. “All of our student groups outperform the overall state of California average student.”
The CAASPP are computer-based assessments in English language arts/literacy, mathematics and most recently, science. Piedmont students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 took the tests last spring. Students in grades 5, 8, and one year in high school (usually 12th) participated in the new science test CAST. Math and language scores are available now to parents on the Infinite Campus portal; science results for 5th, 8th and high schoolers are expected in December.
According to the memo shared with the school board, PUSD has ranked second in the state for the past three school years in mathematics, with nearly 87 percent of district students meeting or exceeding standards. The state average for math is nearly 40 percent meeting/exceeding. San Marino Unified, located in Southern California near Pasadena, has ranked first in the state for the same amount of time. The last time PUSD held the top state spot in mathematics was during the 2015-16 school year.
This year Piedmont dropped into the third spot in the state in English/language arts literacy, with more than 87 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards. By comparison the state average is 51 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards. Both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years saw PUSD ranked second in the state for English language arts/literacy. La Cañada Unified and San Marino Unified in southern California took the two top spots.
PHS saw a 4 percent drop in its English language arts/literacy meet or exceed scores.”I don’t think there’s ever one reason for a drop [in results],” said Beth Black, head of PHS’s English Department. “I think we do struggle at the junior level at getting kids to fully invest in the test. They just don’t see that this is one they have to go 100 percent on.” Black said that the Department is targeting two sections: writing and reading for comprehension, and speaking and listening. She has already shared new resources with the Department to use to help improve performance, including doing more with with podcasts to improve student listening skills.
The CAASPP tests are taken on Chromebooks with a secure browser using a special software to prevent students from cheating, accessing the Internet, and screenshotting the tests. The tests are adaptive and adjust difficulty, assigning harder or easier questions based on each of the responses. “It can really determine over the course of the test where you are and how much you know of those standards,” said Griffin at the meeting. “It’s much more precise than the previous bubble-in STAR tests.”
While recognizing and applauding the high level of the test scores, Board members Megan Pillsbury, Amal Smith, and Cory Smegal each cautioned against overly focusing on CAASPP testing as a singular measure of student achievement.
Science results for 5th, 8th and high schoolers are expected in December. According to the memo, electronic student reports will be available on the Infinite Campus portal.
View statewide results and results for the state’s nearly 1,000 school districts and 10,000 schools here.