For the past five years the Turlock Unified School District has gotten used to disappointment when the California Standardized Testing results were released. This year, however, the district saw their biggest growth yet, according to the 2010 CST scores released on Monday.
TUSD was ranked number one in Stanislaus County in Mathematics and ranked number three in English-Language Arts in the county, said Lacrisha Ferreira, TUSD assistant superintendent for educational services.
“The overall district has seen a huge improvement,” Ferreira said. “The change initiative is working. We are starting to finally see gains.”
According to the 2010 CST scores, TUSD has seen a two percent increase in their proficient students in English Language-Arts from second grade to 11th grade, a 1.2 decrease in advanced students in English Language-Arts, a 2.2 percent increase in proficient students in Mathematics from second grade to seventh grade and a 6.8 percent increase in advanced students in Mathematics.
Students ranked in the advanced section in Mathematics in second grade, fourth grade and sixth grade out ranked the county’s test results. TUSD students in English-Language Arts out ranked the county in a handful of grade levels in both advanced and proficient.
“Our biggest gain is in Mathematics in the county,” said Laurie Harrington, TUSD director of assessment and accountability. “Across the grades we are comparable and moving up compared to the county.”
And this huge growth in TUSD test scores is due to the change initiative of curriculum, instruction and assessments, Ferreira said.
“It is going back to the basics,” she said. “It goes down to the bare bones of teaching.”
The district has concentrated on the curriculum assessments to see why teachers teach the way they do and if it is working, Ferreira said.
Since the flat line of CST test scores, the district has been monitoring teachers, created pacing calendars and benchmarks with assessments.
“We eliminated obstacles for teachers to teach,” she said.
The changes have helped create successful test results, but Ferreira gives the teachers most of the credit for changing the test scores around.
“It is the teacher that is teaching the curriculum in the classroom,” she said. “We have to support our teachers. They are the most valuable player. Teachers have stepped up.”
The overall goal in CST testing is to bring students out of the far below basic, below basic and basic sections and move them up, Harrington said.
“We want to push kids out of the bottom three bands and move them up to proficient and advanced,” she said.
Out of the 16 schools in the TUSD, 14 schools made significant growth, Ferreira said. The schools that did not make a significant growth are Walnut Education Center and Cunningham Elementary School.
Cunningham had a 0.2 percent gain in their advanced students in English-Language Arts, a 0.2 decrease in their proficient students in English-Language Arts, and an increase in their advanced students and proficient students in Mathematics ranging from a 0.2 percent gain to a two percent gain.
Walnut Education Center students dropped in English-Language Arts in the advanced section and in Mathematics proficient section.
During the time of the standstill of test scores, there was small growth where some schools would go up and some schools would go down, Ferreira said. This year the entire district saw an increase together, except for two schools.
The change initiative to help eliminate obstacles for teachers takes about five to seven years to see results, she said.
Now all the research is done so teachers just have to worry about their classroom and students, Harrington said.
“We are the best we have ever been,” Ferreira said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.