The Rancho Santa Fe School District outperformed the county and state in the 2016-17 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CASPP) Smarter Balanced tests.
The Smarter Balanced tests are given to students third through eighth grade and eleven. Each test, English language arts and math, is comprised of a computer adaptive test and a performance task. The test also looks at student performance in “claims,” such as reading, writing, listening, research/inquiry in English language arts and problem solving and data analysis, concepts and procedures, and communicating reasoning in math.
Principals Kim Pinkerton and Garrett Corduan presented the test results to the Rancho Santa Fe School board at its Nov. 2 meeting, sharing the good news that in English Language Arts (ELA), 87 percent of third through fifth grade students met or exceeded the standards, compared to 53 percent of the county and 49 percent of the state.
In R. Roger Rowe middle school, 88 percent of sixth through eighth grade students met or exceeded the standards in ELA.
In math, 84 percent of elementary school students met or exceeded the standards and 82 percent of middle school students met or exceeded the standards, compared to 49 percent of the county and 37 percent in the state.
“Students in third through eighth grade have done as well as or better than the surrounding school districts in both ELA and math,” Pinkerton said.
Pinkerton said it is challenging to compare the district to neighboring school districts as their elementary schools are K-6 while R. Roger Rowe’s is K-5, with 6-8 being considered middle school.
Comparing Rowe elementary to the neighboring district’s third through fifth grade scores only, its 86 percent met and exceeding ELA standards stood up to Solana Beach School District’s 86 percent, 85 percent of Del Mar Union School District and 75 percent in the Encinitas Union School District. In math, both Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar had 84 percent met or exceed standards, Solana Beach had 82 percent and Encinitas had 73 percent.
In ELA, Rancho Santa Fe Middle School’s (6-8th grade) 88 percent that met and exceeded standards compared to 86 percent of seventh and eighth graders at Carmel Valley Middle School, 89 percent of just seventh graders at Pacific Trails Middle School and 75 percent of Earl Warren Middle School. In middle school math, RSF scored 82 percent met and exceeded compared to 84 percent Carmel Valley and Pacific Trails.
Over the last three years, the number of Rowe elementary students who have exceeded the standards in ELA and math has increased, although the number of students who have met the standards slightly decreased.
In the middle school, the scores show a decrease in the students who exceeded the standards from last year.
“It looks like a significant dip but it’s due to a lack of percentage taking the test, a large amount of students opted out,” Corduan said. “That 78 percent in eighth grade math is a little difficult to swallow because I know it would’ve been in the upper 80s if we would have had those students actually take the test.”
In eighth grade, Corduan said the majority of the students who opted out did so because they had already received acceptance into private school and they didn’t think that the test was necessary.
“There is work to do moving forward, we need to do to ensure that they are interested and inspired to take that test,” Corduan said. “It was a strange twist this year…it was definitely not expected and definitely a much higher number than previous years.”
Pinkerton said the district uses personalized goal setting for every student to excel. Teachers are aware of individual students’ performance over time and use the “distance from 3” as a benchmark — under the new assessment, 1 means the lowest and 5 is the highest, with 3 representing proficiency. Pinkerton said teachers use “targeted instruction” to make sure they meet each student’s individual needs.
Other goals for 2017-18 include increasing student contact and connectedness through the middle school testing period, continuing to increase testing participation in middle school, adding personnel to the sixth grade math program and designing opportunities for students in grades fourth and fifth to be introduced to all math content before testing in May — historically some content sections that the students are tested are taught after the May test.
The district’s test scores will be incorporated into the new state accountability system, the California School Dashboard Report, which will be available for public viewing in December. The color-coded dashboard replaced the Academic Performance Index (API) score and includes state and local indicators such as English learner progress, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and parent engagement, as well as test results.
RSF School District Superintendent David Jaffe said he would like hold a workshop in February that takes into account the CASPP scores as well as data from all other forms of student assessments that are done on campus, to provide a full scope of the work being done.
“(The Smarter Balanced assessment) is one measure, one test. Multiple measures give us a deeper picture of students’ performance,” Jaffe said.