Shasta on par with state for 2016 Common Core scores

August 26, 2016
Record Searchlight

Anderson New Technology High School

There’s good news and bad news.

The good: Shasta County students overall fared about the same as California’s average in the recently released 2016 Common Core test scores.

The bad: fewer than half of students at both the county and state level passed the newly rigorous math and English standards.

The state’s overall rate and Shasta County’s were nearly identical: 49 percent of California students met or exceeded standards in English and 37 percent did the same in math.; Shasta County came in with 47 percent and 38 percent of students meeting or exceeding respective standards in English and math on the formally titled California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or “Smarter Balanced” tests.

But there still were specific schools within the county where students did exceptionally well, and others that had fewer than 20 percent of students meet or exceed standards, particularly in math.

Anderson New Technology High School, for example, had the best score of any school in the county, with 80 percent of students meeting or exceeding English standards. Central Valley and Anderson Union high schools, on the other hand, saw only a respective 18 and 19 percent of students meet or exceed standards for math.

Students are tested from third through eighth grade and then again in 11th grade.

The results of the controversial new curriculum’s second year of testing were expected to be low, since it’s still considered to be in the roll-out phase and much more complex and critical-thinking based than the previous kind of testing. But now that the testing is in its second year, the scores also are beginning to show where scores might not just be outliers and methods, therefore, need to change, said Jelena Hasbrouck, communications manager for Oakland-based The Education Trust — West, which focuses on educational disparities in minority and low-income communities.

“The standards are more about complex problems and critical thinking, so we expected lower scores; now, we kind of need to shift into, ‘OK, now we have a better picture of where we’re at, so how are we going to fix it?” she said.

Carol Germano, Anderson New Tech’s principal, attributed her school’s coveted high-ranking English score to the charter school’s mission-based dedication to critical thinking.

“We tell the kids all the time, our teachers aren’t just going to stand in front of the class and lecture, they’re going to present to you a problem and you’re going to figure it out,” she said.

The school’s English score was high last year as well — 75 percent meeting or exceeding standards. But in math, the school had fewer than half of students meet or exceed standards, and it also declined somewhat from last year with a 2016 meeting -or-exceeding rate of 48 percent to 2015’s 53 percent.

Germano said that’s an ongoing problem for lower-income high schools, whose students often don’t get enough one-on-one help in the notoriously thorny subject of math.

“In comparison with the county, we’re doing OK. But, you know, it’s not where we want to be, obviously, and our biggest issue is that kids … don’t get the individualized needs (at younger levels); they have weak math skills and they just keep getting weaker,” she said. “I’m getting students that literally are at the fourth- and fifth-grade level. I can’t put them in an algebra class; it’s just setting them up for failure.”

To combat that, Germano’s school has started a few new initiatives to boost its math scores: namely, personalized online “catch-up math” and optional summer math homework for students already identified as in danger of failing.

“Until students come to us at a higher level,” Germano said, “we’re always just playing catch-up.”

Here’s how some of the biggest schools in the area scored. Percentages indicate how many students met or exceeded state standards:

Shasta High School: 74 percent English, 50 percent math

Enterprise High School: 67 percent English, 42 percent math

Foothill High School: 70 percent English, 47 percent math

University Preparatory School: 77 percent, both English and math

Central Valley High School: 54 percent English, 18 percent math

Anderson High School: 33 percent English, 19 percent math

Anderson New Technology High School: 80 percent English, 48 percent math

West Valley High School: 61 percent English, 34 percent math

Parsons Middle School: 40 percent English, 45 percent math

Sequoia Middle School: 45 percent English, 33 percent math

Shasta Lake School: 36 percent English, 26 percent math

Grand Oaks Elementary School: 27 percent English, 28 percent math

Shasta Union Elementary School: 39 percent English, 33 percent math

Cypress Elementary School: 29 percent English, 20 percent math

Columbia Elementary School: 45 percent English, 44 percent math

Mountain View Middle School: 52 percent English, 50 percent math

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