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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-62
October 2, 2018
Contact: Scott Roark
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Results of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Online Tests

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards (Table 1), a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards (Table 2), a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

This is the fourth year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.

“We’re encouraged by what we see, especially since these tests are more rigorous than previous paper and pencil tests. However, we need to make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “We must continue our work to narrow achievement gaps as we raise the bar for our students, and better prepare for them for 21st century college and careers.” 

Students in grades 3 and 4 made the biggest gains, which bodes well for the future as California continues its multi-year transition to more difficult learning standards, said State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst. “That our younger learners who have experienced standard-aligned instruction since kindergarten are improving faster is encouraging,” Kirst said.

California tested more than three million students. The most widely used tests are the Smarter Balanced Assessments in mathematics and English Language Arts/literacy, which are given in grades three through eight and grade 11. School districts have had access to their own results since May.

For the fourth year in a row, less than 1 percent of students did not take part in the assessments due to a parental exemption, a figure that is far less than in other states.

Smarter Balanced tests consist of two parts: a computer adaptive assessment and a performance task. The computer adaptive assessment bases follow-up questions on a student’s answers in real time and gives a more accurate picture of progress than paper-and-pencil, multiple choice tests. If a student answers a question correctly, they get a more difficult question. If they answer incorrectly, they get an easier question.

The performance task challenges students' ability to apply their knowledge and skills to problems in a real-world setting. The two parts measure depth of understanding, writing, research, and problem-solving skills more thoroughly than the previous multiple choice paper tests.

Scores on the assessments fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. The state also computes the average scores of all tested students, by grade level, called mean scale scores, which reflects the progress of all students rather than only those who changed achievement levels from one year to the next.

It is important to note that the progress of English learner programs should be viewed by the performance of current English learners and former English learners, known as reclassified-fluent English proficient (RFEP). Both of these groups are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

Sharing Success Stories—Learning From ‘Bright Spots’

Some schools and districts are now reaping the benefits of initiatives to improve student performance. Here are three examples:

Brawley Union High School (Imperial County)

After reading poorly written essays from students four years ago, Brawley
Union High School Principal Jesse Sanchez decided to implement comprehensive school-wide writing requirements. All students now have to write in every class—even if it’s summarizing what they have learned regarding muscle anatomy and weight training during physical education.

Over the past three years, English scores have soared.  English Language Arts/literacy results climbed from 34 percent in 2014–15 to 64.57 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on Smarter Balanced tests in 2016–17. Test results remained high in 2017–18, with 63.4 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards. These improvements are even more significant given the fact that 72 percent of students at the Imperial County school are from low-income backgrounds, 49 percent are Ever-English learners, and 16 percent are migrant students.

Kings Canyon Unified School District (Fresno County)

Kings Canyon Unified School District has had large year over year increases in math and English Language Arts scores since 2015. They have increased 12.48 percent since 2015, and 2.07 from 2017 to 2018. In math, the district increased 15.01 percent since 2015, and 3.43 percent from 2017 to 2018.

“Our results are a reflection of our focus on foundational skills, math, and writing in content areas,” said Superintendent John Campbell. “These initiatives are supported by a continuous learning cycle, and the collaborative efforts of our students, staff, and community.”

The district’s initiatives include requiring more writing assignments from all students, targeting interventions based on data, and analyzing the math curriculum through the lens of claims, targets, and standards.

San Diego Unified School District (San Diego County)

San Diego Unified School District has shown solid gains on math and English tests. The district increased scores 5.35 percent in English Language Arts/Literacy since 2015, and 0.77 from 2017 to 2018. Meanwhile, math scores improved 6.16 percent since 2015, and 1.13 percent since 2017.

“As a 17-year classroom teacher with a background in literacy, I believe in the transformational power of strong teaching,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We are honored to have some of the best classroom educators in the state of California, and these new results are truly a testament to their work.”

Parents can get individual student test scores. In addition, California provides the CAASPP Results Web page, where parents and teachers can view and compare aggregated results among schools, districts, and counties along with statewide results.

2015 through 2018 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Percent of Students Statewide Who Met or Exceeded Standards:
Table 1: English Language Arts/Literacy
Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 Percentage Change
2017-2018
Percentage Change
2015-2018

All Students

44

49

48.56

49.88

1.32

5.88

Grade 3

38

43

43.9

48.22

4.32

10.22

Grade 4

40

44

45.06

48.67

3.61

8.67

Grade 5

44

49

46.54

49.43

2.89

5.43

Grade 6

42

48

47.03

47.84

0.81

5.84

Grade 7

44

48

49.4

50.15

0.75

6.15

Grade 8

45

48

48.61

49.12

0.51

4.12

Grade 11

56

59

59.76

55.96

-3.8

-0.04

Females

49

54

53.85

55.29

1.44

6.29

Males

38

42

43.48

44.71

1.23

6.71

American Indian or Alaska Native

33

37

36.15

37.42

1.27

4.42

Asian

72

75

75.54

76.41

0.87

4.41

Black or African American

28

31

31.23

32.27

1.04

4.27

Filipino

65

70

70.24

71.2

0.96

6.2

Hispanic or Latino

32

37

37.28

39.16

1.88

7.16

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

38

42

41.99

43.16

1.17

5.16

White

61

64

64.29

64.86

0.57

3.86

Two or More Races

59

63

63.71

64.75

1.04

5.75

Economically Disadvantaged

31

35

35.52

37.69

2.17

6.69

English Learner

11

13

12.09

12.62

0.53

1.62

Reclassified-Fluent English Proficient (RFEP)

52

58

57.72

58.39

0.67

6.4

Students with Disability

12

13

13.86

14.98

1.12

2.98

Note: 2015 and 2016 achievement level percentages were reported to the nearest whole number. Beginning in 2017, achievement level percentages were reported to the nearest hundredths.

Table 2: Mathematics
Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 Percentage Change
2017-2018
Percentage Change
2015-2018

All Students

33

37

37.56

38.65

1.09

5.65

Grade 3

40

46

46.83

48.89

2.06

8.89

Grade 4

35

38

40.45

42.91

2.46

7.91

Grade 5

30

33

33.83

35.97

2.14

5.97

Grade 6

33

35

36.48

37.5

1.02

4.5

Grade 7

34

36

36.91

37.3

0.39

3.3

Grade 8

33

36

36.3

36.88

0.58

3.88

Grade 11

29

33

32.14

31.37

-0.77

2.37

Females

34

37

37.37

38.5

1.13

4.5

Males

34

37

37.74

38.8

1.06

4.8

American Indian or Alaska Native

22

26

25.44

25.68

0.24

3.68

Asian

69

72

72.69

73.54

0.85

4.54

Black or African American

16

18

19.02

19.74

0.72

3.74

Filipino

52

57

57.09

58.45

1.36

6.45

Hispanic or Latino

21

24

25.2

26.65

1.45

5.65

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

27

31

31.15

31.98

0.83

4.98

White

49

53

52.85

53.57

0.72

4.57

Two or More Races

49

52

53.33

54.41

1.08

5.41

Economically Disadvantaged

21

23

24.57

26.23

1.66

5.23

English Learner

11

12

12.32

12.57

0.25

1.57

Reclassified-Fluent English Proficient (RFEP)

36

40

40.82

41.51

0.69

5.51

Students with Disability

9

11

11.1

11.89

0.79

2.89

Note: 2015 and 2016 achievement level percentages were reported to the nearest whole number. Beginning in 2017, achievement level percentages were reported to the nearest hundredths.

# # # #

Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, October 2, 2018
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