In sync with performance kept since California adopted a new school standardized testing system, San Mateo County students again outscored their cohorts across the state.
According to Smarter Balanced test scores posted Tuesday, Sept. 26, 59 percent of county students met or exceeded their expected grade standards on the English test, while 52 percent of local students achieved similar marks.
While the local marks are 11 percent better than students across the state in English and 15 percent ahead of state math performance, the most recent county scores mirror last year’s performance.
The lack of improvement marks the first time county students have failed to boost their scores since the state implemented three years ago the new testing system designed to better gauge comprehension of Common Core standards. Last year, 3 percent of county students performed better on their English test than the year prior and 4 percent of students improved their math scores.
The most recent round of testing included for the first year a pilot science exam, but scores were not released to the public.
San Mateo County Superintendent Anne Campbell celebrated the scores as a means of granting educators a better chance to understand student skills.
“These data give us the opportunity to look carefully at how our districts are doing. We will be carefully analyzing the results to see which districts are experiencing the most growth. We can identify the strategies they’re using and then share those best practices with others,” she said in an email, while noting such work has already started.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson lauded the improvement students showed across the state, in a prepared statement, while also advocating to keep a focus on future growth.
“I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much more work to do. We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said.
State student scores were largely similar to marks on last years’ exam, but have increased in the amount of students who met or exceeded grade standards by about 4 percent in both math and English since 2015.
The computer-based test is given to third- through eighth-graders in elementary schools across the state, as well as 11th-graders in high schools. It operates on a sliding difficulty scale, giving students progressively harder questions after a correct answer or easier when a student is wrong.
State education officials adopted the system as a replacement to the former Standardized Testing and Reporting exam, in an effort to better gauge critical thinking, analysis and other skills emphasized through Common Core curriculum.
In the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, about 59 percent of students met or exceeded their English grade standards while about 54 percent hit a similar mark in math.
District spokeswoman Amber Farinha said in an email while officials are comfortable with the scores which largely reflect student achievement from the year prior, room for improvement remains.
She pointed to better performance on the English exam as a focus for district educators moving ahead, and suggested a robust writing and reading campaign could address the issue.
“We know that our students will be doing more reading and writing across all subject areas which builds vocabulary and fluency in all areas of study including math, science, social science and elective courses,” she said, while adding the district’s new language arts curriculum could help forward the effort as well.
Sheri Costa, spokeswoman for the San Mateo Union High School District, shared a similar sentiment in lauding student achievement while seeking opportunities to boost scores.
“Certainly, as every district, there is always progress to be made. For example, with new districtwide instructional materials and teaching approaches, we hope to see scores go up next year in math and language arts,” she said in an email. “The [San Mateo Union High School District] is always looking to do better on this and other measures.”
Seventy-seven percent of local high school district students met or exceeded their grade expectations on the English test, and 55 percent hit a similar mark on the math exam. In the neighboring Sequoia Union High School District, 71 percent of students met or exceeded their expected English scores and 51 percent achieved similar marks on the math test.
In one of the county’s few unified school districts, 49 percent of South San Francisco students met or exceeded grade marks for English and 43 percent hit a similar math score.
Superintendent Shawnterra Moore expressed appreciation for the hard work which led to the district’s achievement.
“[The South San Francisco Unified School District] remains intensely focused upon providing the best possible educational experience for our students and families,” she said in an email. “The work of teaching and learning never stops and our entire community will continue to work together, leading all of our students to success.”
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School district English Math
Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary 78 74
Burlingame Elementary 77 75
Hillsborough City Elementary 82 82
Millbrae Elementary 65 61
Redwood City Elementary 47 38
San Bruno Park Elementary 49 47
San Carlos Elementary 76 73
San Mateo-Foster City Elementary 59 54
San Mateo Union High 77 55
Sequoia Union High 71 51
South San Francisco Unified 49 43
San Mateo County 59 52
California 48 37
* Scores shown illustrate percent of students who met or exceeded their grade standard.
** Charter school scores are not included in a district’s performance