After several delays, state officials have released the Smarter Balanced Assessment school and district results from standardized testing that occurred in May. Overall, students in Sonoma Valley’s public schools maintained their progress in English/language arts but showed slipping scores in math.
One piece of encouraging news was the strength of the Sonoma Valley student scores in both grade 7 and 8, across both English language arts and math.
Compared to other school districts across the county, however, Sonoma Valley had the fewest students meeting or exceeding state standards in math and the second fewest in English language arts.
In the elementary grades, less than a third of all students in grades 3 through 6 met or exceeded state standards in math. In grades 5 and 6, only 22 percent of all students met or exceeded state standards.
The new standardized test, now in its third year, bases follow-up questions on a student’s answers. If the student answer a question right, succeeding questions get harder until a wrong answer, which makes the next one easier. Test scores fall in one of four categories: “standard not met,” “standard nearly met,” “standard met” and “standard exceeded.”
In a press release announcing the results, Sonoma Valley Unified School District Superintendent Charles Young noted that the district was aware of the need to make some changes in particular, in its math curriculum.
“[We have a] new math curriculum in grades K-5 that already has teachers and students excited about learning math,” he said. “I am confident that these and other changes will have a significant impact in our students’ lives.”
In language arts, scores districtwide remained steady but still below average.
While students across the county showed gains in math this year, Sonoma Valley saw a regression. Fewer students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 met or exceeded state standards in 2017 than in 2016.
Only 25 to 37 percent of students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 met or exceeded state standards in language arts.
One bright spot in Sonoma was in language arts for grades 7, 8 and 11. Students in these grades showed increases, and in grade 11, 61 percent of students tested were found to have met or exceeded state standards.
“We acknowledge that we still have significant work to do helping all students meet the demands of the new standards and 21st century learning,” said Young in a statement that accompanied the results.
He went on to note that SVUSD has allocated new resources for the 2017-2018 school year, including new math classes and curriculum at the high school, a new English language development curriculum for English language learners and a new 1:1 Chromebook initiative in middle and high school.
Young concluded, “I am impressed by the quality and caliber of all of our employees and am convinced that with the changes we are making, our students will not only perform better on state assessments, but will also be better prepared for college and career in the 21st century.”
In a press release about the statewide scores, California Teachers Association President Eric Heins said that he believes the story of the ongoing transformation of California public education is told more accurately by the newly implemented California School Dashboard – an online assessment of districts, schools and students to be officially launched this fall – than just by standardized test results.
Percent of students who met or exceeded standards, by school district:
Sonoma County (overall): 48.6 percent
West Sonoma County Union High: 77.3
Petaluma Joint Union High: 63.8
Petaluma City Elementary: 50
Santa Rosa High: 48.1
Cotati-Rohnert Park: 45
Sonoma Valley: 42.3
Santa Rosa Elementary: 33.3
Sonoma County (overall): 36.6 percent
Petaluma City Elementary: 49.3
Petaluma Joint Union High: 46
West Sonoma County Union High: 41.8
Santa Rosa High: 33.7
Cotati-Rohnert Park: 31.1
Santa Rosa Elementary: 26.9
Sonoma Valley: 26
To look up school districts and individual school scores, visit http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2017/Search.