California students made solid gains on tests for English and math over the past year, but the state showed little progress in narrowing the achievement gap between racial groups, according to data released last week by the state education department.
For the first time, half the students scored at the “proficient” or “advanced” level in English-language arts on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program in 2009, up from 46 percent in 2008. The number of students meeting those levels in mathematics rose to 46 percent, a 3-point gain over the previous year.
The 2009 STAR test results show that California students have made steady academic progress since the state’s tests were aligned to reflect its academic standards seven years ago. Only 35 percent of students scored at the proficient level or above in both math and English in 2003.
But in Los Angeles, the test results for students at schools involved in two high-profile reform efforts were lackluster. At Locke High School in Watts, a school taken over from the Los Angeles Unified School District last year by Green Dot Public Schools, a charter-management organization, student scores were virtually unchanged from 2008, although the number of students who actually took the state tests increased by 38 percent.
In 10 schools that are managed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, test scores rose modestly at many of the schools, but remained very low. At Santee High School, for example, 13 percent of students scored proficient in English, while 3 percent scored at the same level in math, up from 1 percent in 2008.
A version of this article appeared in the August 26, 2009 edition of Education Week