STAR begins to shine for Tulare county schools

By Olivia Frye

South Valley schools have seen an improvement in this years state Standardized Testing And Reporting (STAR) results.

In 2006, 34% of Tulare County sixth graders were considered proficient in English/language arts and mathematics, an increase of 4% over last year's numbers.

There are five levels to indicate a student performance and proficiency. These levels are advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. Overall, Tulare county ranks proficient.

The Woodlake, Exeter, Farmersville and Lindsay school district say that the majority of students not improving are the English Language Development (ELD) students.

Most ELD students score proficient when it comes to Mathematics. The problem lies in developing English skills to understand all other areas of the testing. Spanish speaking students that have only been in the system for less than a year and are required to take the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education.

All of the teachers in the Lindsay elementary schools are ELD teachers trained on how to work with non -English speaking students. The state of California requires that 30 to 45 minutes a day ELD students work on improving their English skills either one-on-one, in groups or with specific teachers.

The total number of ELD learners that were tested in Exeter came to 25. None of them scored advanced or proficient and 44% of them scored basic and below basic.

This is a statewide ranking that records the progress from year to year with-in each school district. This was adopted after the No Child Left Behind reform in 2001.

Woodlake Superintendent Steve Tiejen Superintendent said, &#8220we are working on closing the gap for the Spanish speakers by paying more attention to their needs.”

All school districts are taking similar actions.

STAR is a series of tests given to students in grades second through 11 designed to test knowledge and proficiency in several different categories. These tests are required to be completed 10 days before or after 85% of school year passed, usually around April.

Tomorrow, Aug. 31 the California Department of Education will release the second part of its standardized testing, the Academic Performance Index (API).

Both tests are part of the public schools accountability act (PSAA). This holds students, schools and districts accountable for improving student performance. Through these tests districts and teachers see where they need to improve and focus on these areas each year.

Once all the test scores from each state are gathered they take a national average and rank each state.

Grades second through eighth are tested on mathematics & English/language arts. Grades nine through 11 cover English/language arts, mathematics and science. Grades eight, 10 and 11 are all required to take history-social science. Grades two through seven are tested on the same grade level they are in for mathematics. Grades eight through 11 are tested upon the particular mathematics course in which students is enrolled.

For science students in high school the tests are based on the specific course in wich a student is enrolled. Tests include earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.

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