PUSD knocks standardized testing as district moves towards Common Core Standards
By André Coleman 08/22/2013
Pasadena Unified School District officials seemed to be placing little stock in the latest Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test scores released Aug. 8.
According to the results, only half of the students in the Pasadena Unified School District are proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and even fewer — 45 percent — are proficient in math. The scores respectively represent decreases of two and one percentage points from last year.
Superintendent Jon Gundry called the STAR tests “a lame-duck assessment test.”
“The progress at most of our schools could be defined as steady,” Gundry said in a statement issued by the district. “The effects of the long-term school funding crisis are visible in this year’s scores. With our limited resources the decision was made to focus on the future and prepare for the introduction of the new Common Core Standards (CCS) and the transition to the next generation of assessments rather than intense preparation for a lame-duck assessment test.”
PUSD students returned to school for the fall session on Aug. 14.
CCS is the latest craze among educators, having been adopted in 45 states to ensure students will have the same curriculum if they move from one state to another. The focus of CCS is learning about classic literature, John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” as well as informational texts in other classes and critical thinking, according to the California Department of Education’s Web site. The district is expected to adopt the CCS program next year.
According to a statement released by the district, “PUSD has undergone a rigorous process of rewriting the district curriculum and planning professional development for educators in preparation for the transition to Common Core Standards and the next generation of curriculum and assessments.”
Since STAR testing came into alignment with state standards in 2003, ELA scores have jumped 28 percent, and math proficiency has increased by 18 percent.
Sierra Madre Elementary School topped the district in ELA achievement with 79 percent of students scoring proficient or above. Sierra Madre Elementary and Roosevelt Elementary schools, respectively, led in math with 81 and 80 percent of students scoring proficient or above.