STAR test results show improvement in Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

The results show steady progress in the percentage of students scoring proficient in English and Math for the ninth straight year.

About 57 percent of students in the state scored proficient in English language arts compared to 51 percent in math. That's the highest percentage in both subjects since the state began administering the test in 2003.

Back in 2003 only 35 percent of California students scored proficient in both subjects so the state has made steady progress in the last decade.

But scores in individual districts and schools varied widely with 13 California districts surpassing the state averages and four falling below them.

Teachers and administrators at Weldon Elementary in Clovis Unified are encouraged by the school's recent test scores on the STAR exam. That's because the campus saw a 7% increase in students proficient or higher in math and a more than 3% rise in English language arts.

But the district has another reason to celebrate. Students from traditionally-challenged groups are now closing the achievement gap. For example, children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds as well as African American and Hispanic students all increased at a greater rate than those of students district-wide, increasing their scores more than 4% to in both subjects areas.

"We do a lot of things called professional inner communities. We meet all the time. My teachers are always talking and sharing and looking at data and creating informative assessments to see what we can do better, how can we tweak that. And it's a lot of hard work, and it's nice when you work really hard to see tremendous payoff," Weldon Elementary Principal Ray Lozano said.

Fresno Unified also showed improvement, but by a smaller margin. English language arts scores there - are up more than 2% as 42.3% of students scored proficient or better and 43% percent of students reached the proficient or better mark in math.

"Which is about 1500 kids proficient or advanced over last year so that's a big number for us," Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said. "We felt great about that. We have a long way to go still, but it's a great way to start the year."

But in Los Banos students are celebrating another achievement. 105 students in that district had perfect scores and many schools either increased their rates of proficiency or were within a point or two of meeting last year's numbers.

Students in grades two through eleven take the tests in the spring of each school year. The scores are considered a crucial measure of a school's success or failure.

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