State test results show Stanislaus County students improving

Stanislaus County public school students are continuing the climb toward proficiency in English and math, according to data released this morning by the state Department of Education.

Figures also show a slight narrowing of the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students and between Latinos and blacks and their white counterparts.

Through the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, state education officials report state test score results every fall. Tests were taken in the spring, and individual reports were sent home so parents can see where their children ranked.

STAR is divided into four categories, including the California Standards Tests. The most overarching and telling, the CSTs reflect how well students have learned the state’s academic content standards. Students land into one of five categories — advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic — on a variety of subject exams. The goal is to get all students in the top two groups.

In English, six in 10 county fourth-graders scored in the top two, while only 36 percent of juniors did.Though striking gaps still exist across income levels and ethnicities, county schools, for the most part, have shrunk the divide since 2003, when the CSTs were first used.

For example, on the English exam for seventh-graders, 47 percent scored at advanced or proficient in 2003. That year, only 22 percent of Latinos reached that level — a 25 percentage point difference. Fast-forward six years later, and 62 percent of whites ranked in the top two categories and 40 percent of Latinos did — a 22 percentage point difference.

Stanislaus County’s achievement gap is smaller than those seen at the state level.

Test scores have become an important measuring stick as politicians search for ways to hold schools and employees accountable with taxpayer money.

Visit the STAR database by clicking here.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star