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Local students score big on state tests
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For a third consecutive year, students in the Turlock Unified School District reached a substantial turning point in core academics, according to the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting released by the California Department of Education last Friday.

The 2012 STAR results show students in the Turlock Unified School District are making progress in English, language arts, history, math and science, with more students falling in the proficient to advanced range than last year.

“We are very pleased with this year’s STAR tests results,” said Director of TUSD Assessment and Accountability Laurie Harrington.  “Teachers are working harder than ever to ensure students are prepared for the state’s testing.”

The STAR program is divided into four subcategories of tests.  Under the program, California students attain one of five levels of performance on the California Standards Tests, giving an overall view of students’ learning for each subject tested: Advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. 

Students across the state improved their scores from last year, with a larger proportion than ever scoring proficient or higher.

Approximately 4.7 million students participated in the 2012 STAR program, with 57 percent scoring proficient or above in English-language arts, three percent more than last year, and 51 percent scoring at proficient or above in mathematics.

“In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  “That’s nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003, a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.”

In the TUSD, the English-language arts category had the largest increase, with 73.6 percent of second through 11th graders testing proficient or advanced level, compared to 51.5 percent last year.  In mathematics, of the second through seventh graders tested in the district, 61.6 percent scored in proficient or advanced range this year, compared to 46.9 percent last year.  In history, of the eighth and 11th graders tested in the district, 63.1 percent scored in the proficient or advanced range this year, compared to 50.3 percent last year. In science CST, of the fifth, eighth, and 10th graders tested, 69.1 percent scored proficient or advanced, compared to 50.8 percent in 2011.

“There’s been a lot of monitoring and teacher training to better prepare them,” added Harrington.  “Teachers are collaborating with one another, gathering data, and planning the curriculum in unison.”

Two of the three traditionally lowest-scoring schools in the TUSD made marked improvements in the 2012 STAR test results.  Osborn Elementary Two-Way Immersion Academy saw a substantial improvement in scores.

Over 69 percent of Osborn students tested at proficient or advanced in English language arts in 2012, compared to 41 percent last year.  Math had the highest increase of scores, with 85.4 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced range, compared to 55.2 percent last year.  In science, 74.2 percent scored proficient or advanced, compared to 46.7 percent in 2011.

Cunningham Elementary, which underwent a “turnaround” using a modified state model in order to pull the school out of being on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools for the past three years, also saw improvements in test scores for all subjects.  In English language arts, 41.9 percent of students tested proficient or advanced, compared to 36.5 percent last year.  In math, 51.6 percent of students tested proficient or advanced compared to 46.5 percent last year.  In science, 39.8 percent of Cunningham students scored proficient or advanced compared to 38.3 percent from 2011.

In other area districts, Delhi Unified saw improved scores in most subjects, falling short in mathematics by two percent.  Hilmar Unified improved in the area of science, as did Denair Unified, with improvements in science and English-language arts.