A multi-ethnic group of elmentary age children are sitting at a desk in a row - they each have their own computer and are working on their typing.

Last Updated on August 30, 2016 by Andre Loftis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This year, students in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties showed improvements on the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests in both math and English.

Although the percent of students in each geography who met or exceed standards in math and English still fell below state-wide performances, in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties the overall percent of students who exceeded standards in each category increased over the previous year’s results.

Statewide, 49 percent of students met or exceeded English standards, while 37 percent exceeded the math standards. By comparison, in Riverside County, only 41 percent of students exceeded the English standards—a 4 percent improvement over last year; and 31 percent exceeded standards in math—a 3 percent improvement over 2015. In San Bernardino County, 41 percent of the students exceeded standards in English—a 4 percent improvement over 2015; and 28 percent exceeded standards in math—a three percent gain over 2015.

This marked the second year students in California’s public school took this set of tests identified nationally as the Smarter Balanced tests—which are in alignment with the state’s Common Core Standards.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/Av4AY6lSH8M”][vc_column_text]Different from the test assessments taken in previous years, these tests are not only taken on computers, the questions appear in random order to prevent students from copying answers from each other. They are also designed to be more rigorous than previous tests. For example, in addition to presenting questions in random order some of the follow-up questions are actually based on a student’s answers to previous questions in real time. The tests also include essay questions and interactive problems in lieu of multiple choice.

It is believed this manner of testing gives a more accurate picture of a student’s progress than paper and pencil testing. The tests work in this way, if a student, for example, answers a question correctly, he/she is then given a more difficult question. If, on the other hand, the student answers the question incorrectly, he/she is then given an easier question.

Students are also required to complete a performance task that challenges their ability to apply their knowledge and skills to problems in a real-world setting. These testing techniques are designed to measure the students’ depth of understanding, writing, research and problem-solving skills more thoroughly than the multiple-choice, paper-based tests they replaced.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator el_width=”10″][vc_column_text css_animation=”bottom-to-top” el_class=”boxContainer”]

“As our teachers and students gain experience with the rigorous standards, as well as the format of the tests, we expect to see continued growth.” –San Bernardino County Superintendent Ted Alejandre

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator el_width=”10″][vc_column_text]In a press release on Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson credited the higher test scores to the dedication, hard work and patience of California’s teachers, parents, school employees and administrators. “Together we are making progress towards upgrading our education system to prepare all students for careers and colleges in the 21st Century,” he proclaimed.

In acknowledging this year’s results improvements San Bernardino County, Superintendent Ted Alejandre not only echoed Torlakson’s recognition of everyone’s hard work he also shared, “Seeing improvement across grade levels and among most of our significant subgroups is a positive step.” He continued, “Over time, as our teachers and students gain experience with the rigorous standards, as well as the format of the tests, we expect to see continued growth.”

In commenting on the results for Riverside, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth M. Young wrote, “Because we have high aspirations for our students, we expect a rise in test scores each year as we continue pursuing our pledge that all students will graduate from high school well prepared for college and the workforce.”

Statewide, more than 3.2 million students participated in the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests. Individual student results are mailed directly to parents; however, results for local schools, districts and counties are available on-line at http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Feature photo: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.