SAN DIEGO–San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten Wednesday unveiled the results of new online assessments administered to about 53,000 San Diego students last spring, with results exceeding the state average. Compared to California’s other large urban school districts, San Diego Unified ranked second. The results were essentially consistent with San Diego County averages.
“The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Smarter Balanced assessments represent a comprehensive approach for measuring students’ success in demonstrating the critical thinking skills essential to success in college and career pursuits,” said Marten. “The world of work is changing, and the way we measure student performance must change as a result.”
The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program as part of the California Standards Test (CST) on January 1, 2014. This year is the first year of the new tests and serves as the baseline from which to measure future progress. The CAASPP includes a number of assessments, but the most widely given are the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, which evaluate student progress on the California standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, often referred to as the Common Core.
“It’s important for our families to know that this is just one measure out of dozens we use to assess student performance,” Marten added. “This assessment is so different from the CST that attempting to compare is beyond apples to oranges. It would be like comparing apples to sailboats. Our students are much more than a single test score, and their performance cannot be determined by a single measure.”
The CAASPP tests for English language arts/literacy and mathematics were given to students in grades three through eight and grade eleven. They consist of two parts.
The first section comprises a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) that utilizes a programming language or algorithm that adjusts the exam to give students more- or less-difficult questions based on their answers to previous questions, thereby providing a more refined picture of a student’s abilities. The second part includes performance tasks that challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. The assessment balances question types and information covered, ultimately providing a comprehensive view of an individual student’s understanding, writing, research, and problem-solving skills. In contrast, the CST was a bubble-in, multiple-choice, paper-based test.
On the Smarter Balanced Assessment, students’ scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met.
Among reported student groups, San Diego Unified exceeded state and county averages in all but two categories, Black or African American students and Hispanic or Latino students.
“We continue to have a persistent achievement gap for African American and Hispanic students and this is not acceptable,” Marten noted. “These assessments confirm the commitment we have already very publicly made to close the achievement gap and create equity and access for every single student.”
The CDE also released results of the California Standards Test for science, which is administered to students in grades five, eight and ten. These tests are not aligned with California’s recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Assessments based on these standards are currently being developed.
Overall state and district results were released today. Individual student results will be mailed home to families in mid-October. Included with the results will be aninterpretation guide to explain the CAASPP assessments and to help parents understand their child’s results. San Diego Unified’s Assessment Services Department has produced a “CAASPP in Detail” video to help parents understand the CAASPP test and corresponding results.