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The official results of the spring administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessments in English Language Arts and Math were released by the California Department of Education on Oct. 2.

The CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) assessments are based on California’s new academic standards, which are designed to prepare students for college and career readiness. One way that progress is measured is through computer-based assessments, which students in grades 3-8 take each spring. These tests were created to gauge each student’s performance in their ability to think critically, problem solve, and write clearly about their thinking and what they know.

The results show that of the 12,232 students in the Palmdale School District tested in English Language Arts (ELA), 30 percent performed in the met standard or exceed standard performance levels – an increase of 2 percent from 16-17. Additionally, Palmdale School District’s improvement percentage in ELA is similar to that of most of the districts in the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County and the state.

Of the 12,253 students tested in math, 20 percent of students performed in the met standard or exceeded standard performance levels – maintaining that percentage from 16-17. PSD performed higher than five of the other districts in the valley in math. Twenty-two schools showed growth in ELA and 17 schools showed growth in math.

Palmdale is celebrating the achievement of students in our various populations. Although there is still more work to do, students identified as English Learners (EL), Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP), African Americans (AA), Low Income (LI) and Students with Disabilities (SWD) improved in ELA in the met and exceeded performance bands. In math, Palmdale School District maintained the percentage of students in the proficiency levels. Elena Esquer, assistant superintendent of Educational Services, noted that the improvement is evidence that “our strategies, actions and programs in The Palmdale Promise, our strategic plan, are working to close the achievement gap.”

Since reading is a strong predictor of future success, one of the outcomes of the Palmdale PROMISE is to ensure all students are reading at grade level by 3rd grade. In ELA, students in 3rd grade increased from 23 percent to 29 percent meeting or exceeding standard. Kelly Jensen, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Elementary, believes part of this success is due to the focus on reading foundational skills in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Superintendent Raul Maldonado feels the emphasis on technology in the classroom has attributed to the academic success of students. Because of the Palmdale Promise, school district leadership prioritized 21st century skills for student achievement. Per Jim Smith, Manager of Information Services, “This required 21st century technology systems and support to propel the district forward. Networking systems were enhanced in every classroom. Grades 3 – 5 offer 1:1 Chromebook carts in each room. Grades 6 – 8 provide a 1:1 Chromebook take-home program. Grades TK – 2 have sets of iPads and some Chromebook usage in Grade 2. Upgrades in classrooms include dedicated wireless Interactive Promethean panels with full video conferencing abilities. Finally, to tie it all together are our Technology Support Liaisons who maintain systems and our teacher tech coaches who provide ongoing professional development and direct services for teachers.“

Diana Nardi, coordinator of Assessment for Learning, stated, “The results of any assessment should always be considered with other measures of learning when making instructional decisions for our students. Our focus is on student growth, so teachers will be using the CAASPP results, local progress monitoring, diagnostic assessments and other data to plan for intervention and enrichment as appropriate. Assessment, instruction and curriculum must work together to improve student learning.”