REDWOOD CITY, CA – September 16, 2015 – The California Department of Education recently released performance data for the 3.2 million students who took the Smarter Balanced assessments last spring, and San Mateo County scored higher than the state average in both English language arts/literacy and mathematics.
The Smarter Balanced assessments, which were given to third through eighth graders and eleventh graders across the state, are part of California's new assessment system. These new exams test more rigorous standards using both performance and computer-based tests, enabling educators to get more robust data on students' analytical writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. This year's results will be used to establish a baseline measure of student growth.
In California, 44 percent of all students met or exceeded the English language arts/literacy standard, and 33 percent met or exceeded the mathematics standard. In San Mateo County, those numbers were even higher, with 56 percent of students meeting or exceeding the English language arts/literacy standard and 48 percent meeting or exceeding the standard in mathematics. San Mateo County also had high participation rates for the exams: 96.7 percent of students participated in the English language arts portion, and 97.2 percent of students participated in the mathematics portion.
Although these data are only a starting point for measuring student growth, they illuminate a persistent achievement gap between groups of students. This year's scores show that work still needs to be done to support all students, and specifically those with the greatest need. However, California's recent stronger state budget, higher academic standards, and the focus on locally based planning are all steps in the right direction when it comes to eliminating these gaps. Schools and districts will be able to use the data they get from the Smarter Balanced exams to focus additional resources on those student groups that need them most.
The San Mateo County Office of Education is working with local schools and districts to offer professional development opportunities and communicate about the new standards, exams, and results. Districts are currently receiving the student score reports, and they will be sent out to parents within 20 business days of the district's receipt.