L.A. Unified Extends Gains on State Assessments

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 27, 2017) - L.A. Unified students extended their gains on the state’s annual academic assessments, with most grades and ethnic subgroups showing improved proficiency on the rigorous Math and English Language Arts exams, according to results released today by the California Department of Education. 

Across the District, 40 percent of students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts (ELA) on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. That is 1 percentage point higher than last year and a 7-point jump from 2015, when the more challenging academic tests were introduced.

In math, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding grade-level standards increased to 30 percent – a 2-point increase from last year and 5 points higher than 2015.

“In this third year of these rigorous assessments, we’re able to see our progress, as well as areas where we need to improve,” said Superintendent Michelle King. “Our teachers, principals and administrators are working closely to develop strategies and allocate resources so that we can eliminate disparities and help all students to achieve.”

When comparing California’s 12 urban districts, L.A. Unified was sixth-highest in ELA and seventh-highest in math.

“Our ‘Kids First’ progress in L.A. Unified is possible because we listen to each other and learn from each other,” said Board President Mónica García. “We are replicating success from school communities that are closing achievement gaps and accelerating strategies that work."

“This data is not a final grade but more like a thermometer at a doctor’s checkup. It helps youth, families, staff and community partners gauge our current condition and plan for student success. We are optimistic and we look forward to the necessary adjustments to get closer to our goal of 100 percent graduation,” García said.

The computer-adaptive tests use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers. 

Using iPads, laptops and desktop computers, L.A. Unified administered more than 1 million test sessions last spring to students in Grades 3-8 and Grade 11. According to the District’s Office of Data and Accountability, the testing process proceeded more smoothly than in previous years. With fewer connectivity issues or problems with the state’s website, 98 percent of the test sessions were successfully completed.

Principals and teachers received results for their schools in June and have been working with Local District administrators on developing and replicating strategies for success. This includes the implementation of a new ELA curriculum that is aligned to the standards that are the basis for the state assessments.

“The state assessments are just one of the measures that assist us in moving toward proficiency and 100 percent graduation,” said Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson. “Because we have data at the end of the academic year, we can plan for accelerated intervention and support in targeted school-wide goals. We are learning from schools that are closing gaps and accelerating achievement.”

The District provided parents with the test results for individual students, and aggregate scores for schools, districts,counties, along with statewide results, are available on the California Department of Education website.

Oscar Lafarga, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, said parents should use the test results in discussing their child’s progress with teachers.

“These test scores can help spotlight where a student is making progress and where they may need additional help,” Lafarga said. “Parents are our partners, and their involvement in supporting their child is important to academic success.”

Other school Board members also spoke about the detailed results released by the California Department of Education.

“I am glad to see that there has been progress, but these results clearly show we must redouble our efforts to ensure better learning for all students and close the achievement gap for students of color,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “We need to work to provide support to teachers and students to accelerate the pace of this progress.”

“We are optimistic about the continued positive trend in the District’s scores on the statewide annual academic assessments, but remain focused on the need to ensure that the pace of growth accelerates” said Board Member Dr.George J. McKenna III.

“I am pleased to see a gain in seventh-grade ELA,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson. “As a former middle school principal, I know that a seventh-grade slump was common for many years in our middle schools. This increase is a significant gain in breaking the slump in seventh grade. I encourage our teachers to maintain this upward trajectory and that we continue analyzing data to increase student achievement at all grade levels for all of our children." 

“We commend all those on the ground who do the hard work of educating and caring for our students every day,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “However, there’s still so much work to do. The data show us that we must amplify our efforts for many of our subgroups, especially English Learner students, who are the lowest-performing student subgroup. In a District where nearly one in three students are classified as English Learners, we must do everything we can to make sure they succeed. 

“This year’s assessment results show continued progress in increasing student achievement,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “This is a testament to the hard work of all of L.A. Unified – from the superintendent to each classroom teacher to every teacher’s aide. 

“Though I am pleased with the gains, the numbers show that several of our most vulnerable populations continue to face opportunity and achievement gaps, particularly our Latino and African-American students, economically disadvantaged students, English language  learners, and students with disabilities,” Gonez said. “We still have more work to do to ensure every child in our district receives the supports he or she needs to be successful and college- and-career-ready.”

"I have confidence we will continue to make further progress and use the data to plan for additional intervention and support to ensure all of our students are on track for a bright future," said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766