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MBUSD Reports State Test Scores On the Rise

Sep 28, 2017 11:43AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Manhattan Beach student test scores are on the rise, according to the Manhattan Beach School District, which reports an increase in state testing results since the current assessments began in 2015. 

The MBUSD students' scores showed a rise of 3% in English/language arts literacy (ELA) and 4% in math since 2015 on the The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CASPP).

Overall, 84.08% of MBUSD students were reported as proficient (equal to or above the standards) in ELA and 74.78% were proficient in math for 2017.

“I am so proud of the fact that MBUSD is a high performing district striving to improve," said MBUSD Superintendent Michael Matthews in a statement. "We are committed to personalized learning strategies that require students to analyze, think critically, and communicate. I have observed our teachers in the classroom coaching students, challenging students, caring for students, and encouraging them to succeed. These test scores are just one way to validate
their efforts.”

The biggest increases in the district have come in secondary math, which has been a targeted MBUSD board goal since 2014. Scores for the 11th grade went from 52% proficient in 2015 up to 66% proficient in 2017.

Dr. Chad Mabery, MBUSD's director of data, assessment, and professional development, said, “We are thrilled with the growth in secondary math student achievement the last two years. Our teachers have done a significant amount of work with new standards, curriculum, and professional development. To have a 16 percent average growth during this time is a testament to the dedication of our math teachers.”

This is the third year of testing using California's Smarter Balanced assessments, which are  computer-based and Common Core-aligned tests that measure student knowledge of California’s English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics standards. These new assessments replace the former paper-based, multiple-choice assessments for students in grades three through eight and grade eleven. The first statewide administration of these assessments took place in spring 2015.

Mabery explained that while the district was looking at both one- and two-year changes in the test data, the two-year changes give a better picture of areas where a consistent pattern is beginning to emerge. "We are analyzing the three data points (2015, 2016, and 2017) across grade levels, within grade levels, and with student cohorts," he said.

One of the differences in the CAASP exams from previous exams is that in language arts, students are assessed not just for reading, but for writing, listening, and research/inquiry. In math, students are not just tested for procedural fluency, but also for problem solving and listening.

MBUSD students tested "near or above standard" in the following specific areas, by percentage: reading 93%; writing 94%; listening 95%; research/inquiry 94%; procedures 88%; Problem Solving 90%; Reasoning 92%; Overall 81%.

Additionally, the math results showing student achievement in procedures, reasoning, and problem solving have shown improvement since 2015. For procedures, 55% of MBUSD students reached the "above standard" mark (compared with 51% in 2015); for reasoning, 47% were above standard (compared with 42% in 2015); and for problem solving, 46% were above standard (compared with 40% in 2015).

Dr. Katherine Whittaker Stopp, assistant superintendent of educational services, noted, “MBUSD students showed growth in each of the math and literacy subcategories. In math, the data shows growth in all claims. However, we are most enthusiastic about the level of student proficiency in math problem solving and reasoning, as they have been the major focus for our math teachers and students for that last two years.”

Jennifer Cochran, president of the MBUSD Board of Trustees, added, “Over the past six years, our MBUSD teachers have worked hard to address the significant state shifts in English Language Arts and math. We will continue to focus our board goals on this commitment to students’ acquisition of 21 st century knowledge and skills.”

Across the state, 49% of students tested at or above standards in ELA and 38% at or above standards in math; and Los Angeles County students tested at 47% at or above standards for ELA and 36% for math.

Manhattan Beach also led in test scores locally compared with other South Bay area school districts.

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