Downey schools improve but still below state average, tests show

DOWNEY - The results of the state-designated standard tests administered in May to grades 2-11 students at Downey Unified School District released Monday show steady overall improvement over a four-year period (2007-2010) in English-language arts and math scores, with average English scores for this year just a shade below the state average (49.7 percent vs. 52.3 percent), while math scores were held back by what school officials attributed possibly to the introduction this year of non-traditional instruction methods (a district average achievement level of 42.5 percent vs. average state scores of 48 percent).These scores refer to proficiency and advanced level standards, goals to which the state has pointed all students to achieve. The accompanying chart provided by DUSD's Educational Services shows Alameda, Carpenter, and Old River elementaries leading the way in exhibiting strong percentage gains, with Ward, Gallatin, and Rio Hondo gaining moderate-to-strong percentages, while the rest of the elementary schools show modest growth; all four middle schools grew at least 10 percent; while the two high schools are just below the 10 percent gain threshold in the English area. In math, as explained above, average scores of most of the elementary schools dropped (over the 4-year period), while Alameda (again), West, Unsworth, and Griffiths made great strides, with the rest of the middle schools and the two high schools performed just under 10 percent.. Columbus High School is not included in these tests as it is considered an alternative school accountability model (ASAM) school serving high-risk student populations. A report from the assistant superintendent/instructional services office stresses that student achievement is still the number one district goal, and in order to achieve this, district and school staffs will, among other things, be focusing more sharply on professional development in math, curriculum refinements, instructional delivery, student intervention (as early as possible), and data analysis. According to the same source, a "home report" for each student has been prepared by the California Department of Education (CDE) and is being mailed home to the parents, along with an explanation of the individual's STAR test results. The report also emphasized that, as staff continues to analyze the STAR data, it is "only one piece of data or information out of multiple measures that are used for planning, evaluating programs, and determining instructional change."

********** Published: August 19, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 18