Kings County, Lemoore High students struggle with first round of Common Core testing

By Ed Martin, Editor

The new Common Core test scores are in and judging by the overall reaction, many statewide and local school officials are considering the low scores a baseline, from where students and districts can only improve - and it’s going to take a lot of improvement.

On Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, unveiled the results of last spring’s new online assessments given to about 3.2 million California students, and basically referred to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) as a work in progress, or as a baseline from which California students can only improve.

The results show a number of assessments, but the most widely given are the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, which evaluate student progress on the California standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, often referred to as the Common Core.

11th Grade Lemoore High School Math and English Standards

California Math and and English Standards

“The results show our starting point as a state, a window into where California students are in meeting tougher academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical writing,” said Torlakson. “California’s new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards. However, as we expected, many students need to make more progress. Our job is to support students, teachers, and schools as they do.”

From a local perspective, Torlakson’s analysis of the results couldn’t ring more true. The local results leave much to be desired, in Lemoore, the Valley, and Kings County.

The tests for English and math were given to students in grades three through eight and 11th grade, and consisted of two parts, adaptive tests taken on a computer that give students different follow-up questions based on their answers, and a performance task that challenges students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.

Previously, the California Standards tests were multiple choice, paper based tests in which students bubbled in their answers. On the CAASPP, students’ scores fall into one of four achievement categories: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met.

Statewide, of the 3.1 million students who took the tests, only 16 percent of them exceeded standards in English while 28 percent met the standards. 56 percent of the state’s pupils nearly met standards or failed to meet the standards.

In math, 14 percent exceeded standards and 19 percent met the standards. Sixty seven percent failed to meet the standards or nearly complied.

Of the statewide 11th graders, only 23 percent exceeded the English standards while 33 percent met them meaning that 56 percent of 11th grade students met the requirements. In math only 11 percent exceeded the standard and 67 percent nearly met or failed to meet the math standards.

Kings County fared poorly on the new tests. Lemoore 11th graders needed to improve, particularly in math where only 3 percent exceeded the statewide standards and 10 percent met the standards. A majority of students either did not meet the standards (55 percent) or nearly met the standards (31).

On the English portion of the test only 13 percent of 11th graders exceeded the standards and 37 percent met them. Forty nine percent did not meet or nearly met the English standards.

“They’re not very different from the CSTs for us as far as the overall comparison,” said Lemoore High School District Superintendent Debbie Muro who compared this year’s CAASPP results similarly to the CST (California Standards Test). “They’re not that much different. They’re not great but they’re not terrible.”
She added that the changeover from the CSTs to Common Core was strenuous for students, teachers and parents. “That’s got to do with switching to Common Core,” she said. “We obviously want to do better.”

Hanford High School did reasonably better than Lemoore, exceeding the English standards with 22 percent and meeting the standards with 41 percent.  Hanford also fared poorly in the math portion of the test, with only 4 percent exceeding standards and 17 meeting the standards.

Math seems to be a problem in Kings County. Only 1 percent of Corcoran High students exceeded expectations and 10 percent met the standard. Only 36 percent met or exceeded English standards.

Avenal fared the worst in Kings County. Only 3 percent met the standard. No students exceeded the standards in math. In English 80 percent of Avenal High students did not meet the standards.

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