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RSF School students score ahead of county, state on state assessments

R. Roger Rowe elementary and middle school continued to outperform the county and state on their 2018 Smarter Balanced Assessment tests. The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests are given to third through eighth grade students in the spring in the subjects of English language arts (ELA) and math.

This spring, students will be tested in science for the first time.

According to Rancho Santa Fe School District Interim Superintendent Kim Pinkerton, the median scores for grades five through eighth grade have been within the standard met or exceeded range for the past three years.

Elementary scores across the last four years show consistent performance in ELA and math while middle school scores across the past two years show consistent performance in ELA and math. Middle School Principal Garrett Corduan pointed out that there was an extremely strong cohort of students in 2015-16 that skewed the results.

In ELA, 87 percent of third through fifth grade students met or exceeded the standards—62 percent of students exceeded the standards. This is compared to 55 percent of San Diego County students meeting and exceeding and 49 percent of the state. In the state, 30 percent of third through fifth grade students did not meet the standards in ELA.

In math, 82 percent of Rowe elementary school met or exceeded the standards, compared to 49 percent of the county and 43 percent of the state.

In the middle school, which is grades sixth through eighth at Rowe, 83 percent of students met or exceeded the standards (43 percent exceeded, 40 percent met). Eighty-one percent of middle school students met or exceeded the standards in math (57 percent exceeded the standards).

In ELA and math, Rowe middle school (which includes sixth, seventh and eighth grade) placed just behind Pacific Trails and Carmel Valley Middle School, which only have seventh and eighth grades.

Comparatively Rancho Santa Fe students were ahead of neighboring Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas school districts in ELA, not including the scores of the sixth grades of those districts.

In elementary school math, Rancho Santa Fe students’ 82 percent met or exceeded scores were just behind Del Mar results and ahead of Solana Beach.

While in the past the district set a goal of 90 percent proficiency on the old assessments, the STAR tests, Pinkerton said that their goals now center on how far each individual student is from the proficiency standard.

“We do expect our students to have a year’s worth of growth,” Pinkerton said.

For example, in the elementary school, the 8 percent who had nearly met the ELA standards in 2017-18 grew to 10 percent this year and those who did not meet the standard dropped from 5 to 3 percent.

Corduan said that they don’t want to get locked into that 90 percent number as there is so much more to school. Although teachers are using the test scores to get a firm understanding of how individual students are performing from year to year, Pinkerton and Corduan noted they take into account how students are performing across multiple assessment criteria not just the SBAC test.

“This is one measure and it is an important measure but at the same time our focus is on the individual student and the individual student’s growth,” Corduan said.

Rowe School Board President Tyler Seltzer commented that he believes the overwhelming majority of the community expects the district to far exceed those standards and he wasn’t scared of setting a high goal. He said that the district does need to ensure parents that they understand what all the numbers mean and the reasons why scores are rising or falling.

Board member Tom Barton said in his experience it appears that some teachers don’t use the SBAC scores or consider them important while other teachers hone in on them more.

“It seems like maybe our goals here could be a little more targeted at implementing this data: how can we use these to pursue excellence in the classroom more than we’re doing,” Barton said, acknowledging that they are doing an amazing job but there could be room to improve.

Pinkerton noted that the data received from the SBAC regarding students is not detailed whereas by contrast the district’s new diagnostic assessment and personalized learning platform for students, iReady, is able to test students and give teachers specifics on areas they are struggling in, providing differentiated instruction.

Moving forward Pinkerton said district goals for the SBAC in 2018-19 school year include personalized goal setting for students, a focus on “accountable talk” in the elementary school classroom, which includes peer to peer discussions on what they are learning, and the implementation of iReady during middle school tutorial time.

The board is expected to hear a presentation on iReady at its Dec. 13 meeting at 9 a.m.

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