Statewide STAR test scores show decrease, possibly due to budget cuts


In a week hundreds of students will flood Willow Glen Elementary school in Visalia for the first day of school. This year administrators are taking a look at STAR test results. While test scores in Visalia are slightly higher, test scores statewide have slightly decreased.

Third grade teacher Liane Stults already has books, notepads and other school supplies lined up on her future students' desks. She says the beginning of the school year is always an exciting time.

"I'm probably like one of the kids I never sleep the first night. I lay awake and think about what did I forget what kinds of issues are we going to be dealing with, the good thing about teaching third grade nobody cries," Stults said.

STAR test results may be on teachers' minds this school year. The State Standardized Test for second through eleventh graders showed a slight decline overall for the past school year. California schools superintendent Tom Torlakson says years of budget cuts has finally put a dent in classrooms. Visalia Unified Superintendent Craig Wheaton agrees.

" It's taken some toll actually, Visalia Unified we didn't see a drop but what we saw was just a minor increase in each subject area, less than a percentage and we're used to having two, three percent" Dr. Wheaton said.

Wheaton says the cuts have bumped up class sizes and forced the elimination of special or extra programs. Wheaton says this is the first time the district has seen the cuts reflected in test scores. Still, he says, the change appears to be minor, and with Prop 30 funds now replenishing school budgets, school districts across the state may have caught the budget pitfalls just in time, without too much impact on student performance.

"We're so busy at looking at the new common core state standards and transitioning into those new standards anyway our changing up anyway so I believe that we'll continue that work," Wheaton said.

This year Visalia Unified has been able to hire a few more teachers to try and begin a new trend of making classroom sizes smaller. Currently there is on average thirty kids in each classroom.

Visalia Unified starts class next Thursday the 15.

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