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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #13-73
August 8, 2013
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Releases 2013 STAR Results

Statewide scores slip slightly amid budget cuts, transition to Common Core

SACRAMENTO—Scores on the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments slipped by a fraction of a percentage point this year as schools dealt with ongoing budget reductions and the transition to the Common Core State Standards, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

Students managed to hold on to the vast majority of gains posted over the last 11 years, with a majority of students statewide continuing to achieve at the proficient or advanced level in mathematics and English-language arts. Only one student in three achieved proficiency in 2003, the year that the STAR tests became fully aligned to the former state content standards.

"As you would expect for a school system in transition, results varied from grade to grade, subject to subject, and school to school, but the big picture is one of remarkable resilience despite the challenges," Torlakson said. "While we all want to see California's progress continue, these results show that in the midst of change and uncertainty, teachers and schools kept their focus on students and learning. That's a testament to the depth of their commitment to their students and the future of our state."

Torlakson also noted that schools across the state continued to deal with the effects of years of budget cuts and financial uncertainties throughout the 2012-13 school year. Led by Governor Brown, voter approval of Proposition 30 in 2012 averted $6 billion in further cuts to education budgets.

The California Standards Tests, the major component of the STAR program, were given to approximately 4.7 million students in grades two through eleven in 2013.  Students attain one of five levels of performance for each subject tested: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic.

The State Board of Education has established the "proficient" level as the desired achievement goal for all students. That level represents a point at which students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by the assessment at a particular grade, in a particular content area. This achievement goal is consistent with school growth targets for state accountability and requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The 2013 STAR results show that a significant achievement gap continues to exist for African American, Hispanic/Latino, low-income, and English-learner students, compared to their peers.

"The long-standing achievement gap among student groups remains a matter of great concern and considerable challenge," Torlakson said. "We must move forward now so that all children—no matter where they come from or where they live—receive a world-class education that is consistent from school to school, and graduate ready to contribute to the future of our state."

Statewide, 51.2 percent of students posted a score of proficient and above in mathematics (Table 1), which was 0.3 of a percentage point lower than last year. In English-language arts, 56.4 percent of students scored proficient and above, 0.8 of a percentage point lower than in 2012. In science, 59.1 percent scored proficient and above, 0.4 of a percentage point lower than the 59.5 percent achieved in 2012. Students showed gains in history-social science, with 49.4 percent scoring at least proficient, an increase of 0.6 of a percentage point over last year's 48.8.

Looking at statewide mathematics results by grade level (Table 2), the percentage of proficient and above students rose slightly for second and fourth graders, and students taking Algebra I. There were declines among third graders, seventh graders, and high school students taking Geometry, Algebra II, and Integrated Mathematics 1. The percentage of proficient and above students was unchanged from the prior year among fifth and sixth graders as well as for students taking General Mathematics or the Summative High School Mathematics assessment.

There were similar results in English-language arts (Table 8), with gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient and above in grades nine and ten. Declines were seen among students in grades two through five, seven, and eight. Results were unchanged among sixth and eleventh grade students.

In mathematics, the percentage of Asian students scoring proficient and above increased by 1 percentage point (Table 5). African American, Filipino, and white students were unchanged from last year, while Hispanic/Latino students or those of two or more races lost a percentage point. Scores of economically disadvantaged and not economically disadvantaged students were unchanged as they were for English-only students. Scores of English learners declined by 1 percentage point.

In English-language arts (Table 10), proficient and above scores for Asian students and students who were economically disadvantaged were unchanged. For other subgroups, there were decreases of 1 to 2 percentage points.

Torlakson noted that with large-scale field testing of new computer-based assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards proposed for the coming school year, this year's results likely mark the last use of the STAR program statewide.

"As valuable as STAR has been, we're getting ready to raise the bar in California's schools," Torlakson said. "This coming year, many students will have their first chance to try tests that measure their preparation for college and the world of work. That's a huge challenge for every part of our education system—but one we have to tackle to give every student the opportunity to prepare for a bright future."

Full results can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results Web page.

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Background

The 2013 STAR Program consists of four components that assess California's former state content standards for English–language arts and mathematics adopted in 1997 and state content standards for science and history-social science adopted in 1998:

  • The California Standards Tests (CSTs) are standards-based tests that measure the achievement of California's former state content standards for English–language arts (ELA) and mathematics and content standards in science and history–social science.
  • The California Modified Assessment (CMA) is designed for students with disabilities whose individualized education program (IEP) team determines that the CMA is appropriate and who meet State Board of Education (SBE)-adopted eligibility criteria. The CMA is designed to provide students an accessible assessment of their achievement of California's former state content standards for English–language arts and mathematics, and content standards for science.
  • The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) is for students who have significant cognitive disabilities, assesses them in California's former state content standards for English–language arts and mathematics, and content standards for science.
  • The Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) is for Spanish-speaking, English learners (ELs) who either receive instruction in Spanish or have been enrolled in a school in the United States for less than 12 months. The STS assesses these students in California's former state content standards for reading/language arts and mathematics. Students who take the STS are also required to take the CSTs and/or CMA appropriate to their grade level.

In spring 2013, the following CSTs were required for all students:

  • English–language arts for grades two through eleven;
  • Mathematics for grades two through nine;
  • Science for grades five, eight, and ten (life science);
  • History–social science for grades eight and eleven (U.S. history).

Students may have also taken end-of-course tests in mathematics (grades seven through eleven), science (grades nine through eleven), and history–social science grades nine through eleven) if they were scheduled to complete the corresponding courses by the end of the school year.

In 2013, students who had an IEP and met the SBE-adopted eligibility criteria were able to take the CMA for ELA in grades three through eleven, the CMA for mathematics in grades three through seven, the CMA for Algebra I, the CMA for Geometry, and the CMA for science in grades five, eight, and ten (life science) instead of the corresponding grade-level and content-area CSTs. Students in grade eight who took the CMA for ELA and/or science were also required to take the CST for history–social science.

Students with disabilities who were unable to take the CSTs with accommodations or modifications or were unable to take the CMA with accommodations took the CAPA in ELA, mathematics, and science (approximately 1 percent of the tested population).

Spanish-speaking ELs who either received instruction in Spanish or were enrolled in a school in the United States for less than 12 months were required to take the STS in addition to the CSTs and/or CMA.

Reporting STAR Program Results

Five performance levels are used for reporting the results for all assessments in the STAR Program: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. The state target is for all students to score at the proficient level or above (advanced). The percentage of students scoring at each performance level is reported by grade level and subject for all students and for student subgroups.

Summary of California Standards Test Results

A summary of statewide student performance on the CSTs follows, organized by content area.

Mathematics

In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in mathematics declined 0.3 of a percentage point compared to last year (Table 1). (Rounded in Table 2). From 2003 to 2013, the overall percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above increased by 16 percentage points (Table 2).

From 2012 to 2013, there was a 1 percentage point increase in the number of students scoring at the proficient level and above in grade two, grade four, and Algebra I. This is an increase from 64 percent to 65 percent, from 71 percent to 72 percent, and from 35 percent to 36 percent, respectively (Table 2). Between 2003 and 2013, the largest increase in the percentage of students achieving the proficient level and above was 30 percentage points in grade five, increasing from 35 percent to 65 percent, followed by a 27 percentage point increase in grade four, increasing from 45 percent to 72 percent (Table 2).

In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the below basic and far below basic levels in mathematics remained the same compared to 2012 at 26 percent. The overall percentage of students scoring below basic and far below basic between 2003 and 2013, decreased by 12 percentage points (Table 3).

The number of students taking the CST for Algebra I showed, continuing last three year's trend but in a lesser degree, a decrease of 27,535 between 2012 and 2013, compared to a decrease of 31,514 between 2011 and 2012. The numbers of students taking the CSTs for Algebra II and Summative High School Mathematics continued the upward trend, with an increase of 7,856 and 10,821, respectively (Table 4).

The subgroups of students showing the greatest 11-year improvement between 2003 and 2013 in achieving the proficient level and above were Filipino, Hispanic or Latino, and economically disadvantaged students, with an increase of 19 percentage points each. Similarly, though English language learners show a 1 percentage point decline between 2012 and 2013, they show a 17 percent improvement between 2003 and 2013. Though showing no growth between 2012 and 2013, students receiving special education services showed a 16 percentage point gain from 2003 and 2013 (Table 5).

For 2013, the percentage of not economically disadvantaged Black or African American students achieving the proficient level and above (42 percent) is 6 percentage points lower than economically disadvantaged white students. The percentage of not economically disadvantaged Hispanic or Latino students achieving the proficient level and above (47 percent) is one point below that of the economically disadvantaged white students (Tables 6 and 7).

English–Language Arts

In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in English-language arts declined 0.8 of a percentage point compared to last year (Table 1) (Rounded in Table 8). From 2003 to 2013, the overall percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above increased by 21 percentage points (Table 8).

Since 2003, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in grades four and eight has increased by 26 percentage points; in grades five, six, and nine by 24 percentage points; in grade seven by 23 percentage points, and in grade two by 20 percentage points. In 2013, grade nine showed a one-year increase of 5 percentage points and grade ten increased by 1 percentage point. Grades two, seven and eight showed a one-year decrease of 3 percentage points. Grades three, four, and five each showed a decrease of 2 percentage points (Table 8).

The percentage of students in grades two through eleven scoring at the below basic and far below basic levels decreased approximately 15 percentage points between 2003 and 2013. This percentage of students remains steady from 2012 at 17 percent. In 2013, grade ten showed a one-year decrease of 3 percentage points in the students scoring at the below and far below basic levels. Grade nine showed a one-year decrease of 2 percentage points (Table 9).

The percentage of students scoring at the below basic and far below basic levels in grade eight has decreased by 20 percentage points since 2003. Grades seven and ten showed the next greatest reduction with a decrease of 18 percentage points in each of those grades (Table 9).

Hispanic or Latino students showed the greatest improvement since 2003 in achieving the proficient level and above (an increase of 25 percentage points). Filipino students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 24 percentage points. Asian students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 23 percentage points. Black or African American students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 21 percentage points. Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 20 percentage points, and white students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 19 percentage points. American Indian or Alaskan Native students increased their achievement of the proficient level and above by 16 percentage points. Though English language learners show a 2 percentage point decline from 2012 and 2013, they also show a 13 percent improvement between 2003 and 2013 (Table 10). 

Economically disadvantaged students had no increase from 2012 and 2013, but showed a 25 percentage point gain from 2003 and 2013 (Table 10). For 2013, the percentage of not economically disadvantaged black or African American students achieving the proficient level and above (55 percent) is equal to that of economically disadvantaged white students. The percentage of not economically disadvantaged Hispanic or Latino students achieving the proficient level and above (58 percent) is 3 percentage points above that of the economically disadvantaged white students (Tables 11 and 12).

History–Social Science

In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in History-Social Science increased 0.6 of a percentage point compared to last year (Table 1) (Rounded to 0 in Table 13). The number of students who scored at the proficient level and above on the grade-eight CST for History–Social Science did not increase between 2012 and 2013 but did increase by 25 percentage points between the years of 2003 and 2013 (Table 13).

In 2013, the number of students achieving the proficient level and above on the grade-eleven CST for U.S. History increased by 1 percentage point and a gain of 16 percentage points between the years of 2003 and 2013 (Table 13).

The percentage of students in grades nine, ten, and eleven achieving the proficient level and above on the end-of-course CST for World History did not increase between 2012 and 2013, but has increased 19 percentage points between the years 2003 and 2012 (Table 13).

Science

In 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in science declined 0.4 of a percentage point compared to last year (Table 1) (Rounded to -1 in Table 14). Grade five showed a decrease of two percentage points. Grade eight and grade ten each showed an increase of 1 percentage point. Notable gains were seen in all grade levels since the assessments were first administered (Table 14).

From 2012 to 2013, Physics and Integrated Science 1 end-of-course results showed an increase in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above on the science CSTs. The largest one-year increase was 4 percentage points in Integrated Science 1, increasing from 20 percent to 24 percent of students. Integrated Science 2 showed a decrease of 3 percentage points, decreasing from 25 percent to 22 percent. Earth Science, Biology and Chemistry each showed a one-year decrease of 1, 2 and 3 percentage points respectively (Table 15).

The percentage of students achieving at the proficient level and above has increased on all end-of-course tests since 2003, with the greatest increase on the CST for Physics, at 24 percentage points during that time period. A total one-year decrease of 2 percentage points for all of the end-of-course tests was seen between 2012 and 2013, while those same tests showed gains of approximately 15 percentage points between 2003 and 2013 (Table 15).

In 2013, approximately 1.2 million students in grades nine through eleven took science end-of-course CSTs. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of students taking the CST for Earth Science decreased by 7,611, the number of students taking the CST for Biology decreased by 3,318, and the number of students taking the CST for Integrated Science 1 decreased by 6,623. From 2012 to 2013, the number of students taking Chemistry increased by 10,077 and the number of students taking Physics increased by 4,601. Since 2003, the number of students taking the CST for Biology has increased by 219,570, the greatest increase among the science end-of-course CSTs. Though the number of test takers is decreasing over the past three years for Earth Science, there is an increase of 109,704 students taking that test since 2003. Within the same period, notably, the number of students taking the CST for Chemistry increased by 132,047 (Table 16).

Summary of California Modified Assessment Results

The CMA in ELA was first administered in grades three through five in 2008, grades six through eight in 2009, grade nine in 2011, and grades ten and eleven in 2012. The CMA for mathematics was first administered in grades three through five in 2008, grades six and seven in 2009, and end-of-course tests in Algebra I in 2010 and Geometry in 2011.

From 2012 to 2013, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or above level on the CMA for ELA increased by 4 percentage points in grade seven, by 3 percentage points in grade five, and by two percentage points in grade 10 and grade three. In grade four, the students scoring at proficient or above decreased by 7 percentage points and by 5 percentage points in grade 6 (Table 17).

Since 2008, the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on the CMA for ELA in grade five increased a total of 8 percentage points, from 28 in 2008 to 36 in 2013.  Since 2009, the percentage of students scoring proficient and above on the CMA for ELA in grade seven increased a total of 10 percentage points, from 25 in 2009 to 35 in 2013 (Table 17).

From 2012 to 2013, the largest one-year increase in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above was 3 percentage points on the CMA for Grade Three Mathematics, increasing from 32 percent to 35 percent (Table 18).

The percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above for the CMA in grade five mathematics has decreased by 5 percentage points between 2012 and 2013; though an increase of 12 percentage points is observed between 2008 and 2013 (Table 18).

There was a 5 percentage point gain in CMA for grade eight Science between 2012 and 2013 with a 14 percentage point gain between 2009 and 2013 (Table 19).

Summary of Standards-based Tests in Spanish Results

From 2012 to 2013, most grade levels receiving STS results for reading/language arts (RLA) showed a decrease in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above. There was no change in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above from 2012 to 2013 in RLA for grades six and seven (Table 20).

From 2008 to 2013, the largest increase in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above for RLA was 5 percentage points in grade four, from 30 to 35 followed by grade three with 3 percentage points, from 34 to 37 (Table 20).

From 2008 to 2013, the largest increase in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above for mathematics was 5 percentage points in grade four. Grades three and five showed an increase of 2 percentage points respectively (Table 21).

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Tables 1-21

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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