By Paul Warren
The 2017 test results for California’s public K–12 school students were essentially unchanged from 2016. But behind the overall results, there were significant differences among student groups. Economically disadvantaged students—mostly those who are eligible for free or reduced price school meals—continued to score far below students not in this category. Students with disabilities and English Learner (EL) students performed at levels significantly below those of low-income students. Gaps in achievement among these groups were essentially unchanged in 2017.
Known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), tests in English and mathematics are administered to virtually all K–12 students in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 11. Students take the computer-based assessments in late spring each year. The scores are reported across four performance levels. In English this year, 45% percent of students performed at the top two levels, which signal that they are working at or above the state’s standard for proficiency. About 28% of all tested students fell into the lowest performance level, “below standard.” In comparison, fewer students had mastered the mathematics skills needed to meet state standards, with 38% earning a proficient score. More than a third (36%) scored at the lowest performance level.