STAR test results for 2011 released

FRESNO, Calif.

The results show - California students have improved across the board - with higher percentages of them scoring better in English and math.

Approximately 4.7 million California students participated in the 2011 "Standardized Testing and Reporting Program" or "STAR" test.

While more than half of them scored proficient or higher in both English and math. School districts will tell you they still have a long way to go.

Tom Torlakson said, "I'm pleased to announce today that students continue to steadily improve across the board with greater share scoring proficient or above on the star test."

While State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson praised teachers and administrators for their "heroic teamwork" in increasing standardized test scores - Madera Unified School District Spokesperson Jake Bragonier interprets the numbers a little differently.

"Sort of good news bad news. Good news is you're not regressing," said Bragonier. "Bad news you'd like to increase maybe at a faster rate."

In Madera County - students in grades 2 through 11 scored between 30 and 50 percent proficiency or above in language arts - compared to the state average of 54 percent. While the numbers are slightly up - he says teachers and administrators have their work cut out for them as returned to school Monday.

While the STAR results showed an increase in proficiency levels among all subgroups, a troubling and persistent achievement gap exists for African American, Latino, English-learner and low income students compared to their peers. Something Torlakson is calling on teachers to work hard to improve.

Torlakson said, "We're looking at career technical education, chronic absenteeism, focus extended learning... to help students who are below proficiency rise to that level of high level of proficiency that will prepare them for the workplace."

Torlakson also points out that California ranks at nearly the bottom when it comes to funding education. He's asking for legislators to restore some of the cuts it's made in the last few years - and for business leaders to continue to invest in education.

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