State test scores increase three years in a row in Penn Valley Union Elementary School District

November 8, 2018 – Every Spring students across California in third through eighth grade, and students in eleventh grade, take the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, known as the CAASPP. This assessment provides a snapshot of the skills students have learned in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA) and Math related to the state adopted benchmark skills. Student scores are reported using the following descriptors for both subject areas: Standard Exceeded, Standard Met, Standard Nearly Met, or Standard Not Met.

Beyond providing parents with feedback on their own child’s progress, these test results provide schools and districts with feedback on how well they are preparing their students on those adopted, essential skills in the core subjects. This feedback can lead to implications for state oversight for schools or districts who are not making adequate progress. Regardless of personal opinions, this is a high stakes test, with implications for students, staff, and districts as a whole.

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Schools and districts each have a unique set of circumstances or risk factors which can feel like an unfair burden, and sometimes it is these challenges that make for the most fulfilling victories. This is the sentiment shared throughout the Penn Valley Union Elementary School District (PVUESD), with the most recent release of CAASPP data and gains across all subcategories for a third straight year in a row.

Since Spring of 2015 CAASPP scores, PVUESD has demonstrated an overall increase in ELA of 19% and an overall increase in Math of 11%. Based on Spring 2018 test results released in October, we have 56% of students at Exceeded/Met Standard in ELA compared to 49% State-wide and 51% County-wide. We also have 45% of students at Exceeded/Met Standard in Math compared to 38% State-wide and 39% County-wide.

Two significant subgroups for our District are Socio-Economically Disadvantaged (SED) and Students With Disabilities (SWD). When examining data for those subgroups, both have made significant gains since 2015. Our SED subgroup has seen an increase of 21% for students who Exceeded/Met Standard in ELA and an 11% increase in Math since 2015. Although our SWD subgroup did not make large gains in the Exceed/Met Standard, we have seen a slow and steady increase of students moving from Standard Not Met to the Nearly Met and Met Standard range. Our SWD subgroup has seen an increase in academic gains in ELA as we previously had 72% of students in this subgroup performing in the Standard Not Met category in Spring of 2015, whereas we had 58% of students in this subgroup performing in the Standard Not Met category as of Spring 2018. This demonstrates a 14% academic gain for students in this subgroup. Each year our goal is to not only maintain students in the Exceeded/Met Standard category, but to pull students at lower levels up from the Standard Not Met category to the next level until they reach grade level achievement.

We have spent time examining our needs for both students and staff in order to strategically develop how we teach each student and deliver instruction. Although reading, writing, and arithmetic are critical for long-term success, basic needs must come first. Helping students at their level, providing emotional support, and teaching the concept of citizenship makes for an educational environment that encourages academic learning. Creating a common language around what we ultimately want students to learn was the springboard for consistent and steady gains as we started the 2015-2016school year.

Our dedicated staff should be congratulated! Their hard work and dedication to educating each child in Penn Valley is something to be admired. Like all educators, they go above and beyond every day to ensure students receive the necessary support and guidance to learn and grow, as well as encouragement to become upstanding citizens. They work tirelessly with parents/guardians to communicate needs and goals. Each staff member embraces students at their level in order to fill gaps while teaching new and exciting concepts. As we move through the current year, we will continue to advance our skills so that each child can reach their full potential academically, socially,and emotionally.

If you would like to know more about the CAASPP or compare scores of other schools, all school and district results can be viewed at the California Department of Education’s Search Smarter Balanced Test Results

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