Students at the Capistrano Unified School District continue to outperform their counterparts throughout Orange County and California on standardized tests ― sometimes by more than 10 percent, according to results released Thursday.
However, students in Capo schools and countywide saw modest declines in every category of testing. Similarly, students statewide saw declines in every category except for history in 2013.
The declines in Capo test scores were minimal, said CUSD spokesman Marcus Walton.
“We are pleased that our students continue excel in these examinations because it is a positive reflection on the work of our entire staff,” said Walton in an email. “There was a very slight dip in some of the district-wide scores, which is not unusual for a District that scores as consistently high as Capistrano Unified School District.”
Districtwide, statewide and countywide, there was actually very little change in the percentage of students deemed proficient or advanced in English, math, history and science. Most of the statistics show a dip of less than one percent.
Al Mijares, Superintendent of the Orange County Department of Education, said he was pleased with this year’s aggregate numbers. OC students outshine those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, he said.
“When you look at the largest counties in California, we continue to out-score those counties, and we have the same demographic challenges they do,” Mijares said. “You can’t say all our kids come from English-speaking homes with strong middle-class families.”
Mijares said the slight dips in percentages shouldn’t cause undue alarm.
“You’re always looking for ways to improve -- that’s an ongoing quest,” Mijares said. “We saw a little bit of a dip in the elementary grades, so we’ll have to study that and make sure it’s a statistical aberration, not a trend.”
Mijares also commended OC teachers’ “professionalism and competence” for helping students to maintain most of the testing gains from over the past decade despite layoffs and budget cuts.
The State Standards
Students in California from second through 11th grades take a battery of tests each year established by California’s 1999 Public Schools Accountability Act. The California Department of Education measures student achievement through Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR results, which it releases in bulk to the public and schools throughout the state every summer.
According to the state education department, not every kid takes the whole battery of tests, depending on grade level -- for instance, a second grader wouldn’t take high school biology just as a high schooler wouldn’t take second-grade math. There are a couple alternate and modified tests taken by kids with disabilities, and one in Spanish for kids who have either been in the country for less than 12 months or received instruction in Spanish, according to the department of education website.
But the majority of schoolchildren throughout the state take a test called the California Standards Test, which tests English language arts; history and social science; mathematics; and science.
Numbers throughout CUSD
The percentage of students deemed “proficient or advanced” dropped slightly in every academic category at Capistrano Unified in the 2013 school year.
In English and language arts, 76.5 percent of students were proficient or advanced in 2012, while 75.2 percent of students were proficient or advanced in 2013.
In history and social sciences, 74.1 percent of CUSD students were deemed proficient or advanced in 2012, while the percentage was only 72.6 in 2013.
In mathematics in 2012, 69 percent of CUSD students tested achieved an advanced or proficient rating, while that number dropped to 66.6 percent in 2013.
And for those CUSD students who took the standard science tests at CUSD, 78.7 were advanced or proficient in 2012, while only 76 percent were in 2013.
The number of Orange County students deemed advanced or proficient in English and language arts dropped a percentage point from 65.6 percent in 2012 to 64.6 percent in 2013.
Orange County’s proficient and advanced history and social sciences students in 2012 made up 61.1 percent of those tested as opposed to 60.8 percent in 2013.
Math scores dropped slightly as well. In 2012, 61.7 percent of students tested throughout the county were proficient or advanced in math, while only 60.8 percent were proficient or advanced in 2013.
OC science scores dropped in aggregate dropped by more than one percent. In 2012, 64.8 percent of students tested were proficient or advanced in science, while 63.3 percent of students in 2013 were proficient or advanced in science.
In 2012, 57.2 percent of California students were deemed “proficient or advanced” in English and language arts, while only 56.4 percent met those standards in the 2013 school year.
In Math, 51.5 percent of students were advanced or proficient in 2012, but the 2013 kids shaved that number down to 51.2.
Similarly with science, 59.5 percent of 2012 students were proficient or advanced while only 59.1 percent of 2013 students showed the same aptitude.
A bright spot in the STAR report this year was that student tacked on a few tenths of a percent in their history and social science scores: the percentage of proficient or advanced students in 2012 was 48.8, which rose to 49.4 in 2013.