Test Scores Up in Local Schools

New test scores show far more students in the Long Beach Unified School District meeting state standards than just a few years ago in all subject areas.

"Test scores here continue their upward trend," said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District.  "We're seeing academic growth at a rate surpassing that of other urban school districts nationwide."

Since 2003, when all California Standards Tests (CSTs) were completely aligned to state standards, the number of LBUSD students meeting standards (by scoring at the proficient or advanced level) has increased steadily.  The CSTs measure the achievement of students in grades 2 to 11 in English-language arts, math, science and history-social science.  The tests are based upon California standards, which are widely recognized as some of the most rigorous in the nation.

"Considering that we've repeatedly slashed our budget by tens of millions of dollars since 2003, these solid gains are a testament to the hard work of everyone in our schools," Steinhauser said.  "Despite our many challenges, we still have the will to win, and it shows in these test results."

In English, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced proficient this year ranged from 36 percent in grade 11 (up 9 percent since 2003) to 64 percent in grade 4 (up 27 percent since 2003).

Math scores also improved at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  Over the past seven years, elementary and middle schools showed double-digit growth in the percentage of students meeting standards.  Grade 3 showed the highest overall percentage of students meeting math standards this year, with 73 percent of students reaching that goal.  That's up 26 percent since 2003.

In Algebra 1, 30 percent of students met state standards, an increase of 6 percent since 2003 even as the overall number of students taking this course rose from 6,958 to 8,895 over the same period.

Though the percentage of students meeting Geometry and Algebra 2 standards showed a slight dip since 2003, down 4 percent and 3 percent respectively, the actual, raw number of students meeting these standards increased by thousands of students.  That's because LBUSD has pushed more students to enroll in these more challenging courses.  This year, 5,160 students took the Geometry exam, up 1,746 since 2003.  And 2,578 students took the Algebra 2 exam, up 862 since 2003.

In History, the percentage of students meeting standards ranged from 37 percent in grade 10 World History (up 11 percent since 2003), to 43 percent in grade 8 History (up 17 percent since 2003).

In Science, grade 5 showed the greatest growth with 51 percent of students meeting standards, up 31 percent since 2003.  High school physics showed a dip of 5 percent, but again, the actual, raw number of students meeting standards increased because the number of students taking this course more than doubled.

The latest test scores are preliminary because they do not include 18 year-round schools in LBUSD.  These schools test students later in the year, so their results are not yet available.

For a record-tying fifth time, LBUSD is among the top five finalists for the national, $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education.  This award honors urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in achievement for all students.  Only Boston Public Schools share this five-year record of consistently outperforming other school systems nationwide.  The winner of this year's top prize will be announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Sept. 16 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

For the California Department of Education news release on state test scores, visit: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr09/yr09rel119.asp.