Tracy Unified School District’s state testing scores are improving. The district’s numbers are still below the state average for most students in the district, but also higher than the average for the rest of San Joaquin County.
That was the message that TUSD’s director of assessment and accountability, Tania Salinas, had for the district’s board of trustees Tuesday night. Salinas provided the council with a summary of the 2018-19 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test scores, and a comparison with scores from the previous two years.
The California Department of Education announced the final results of the CAASPP testing Oct. 9 and reported that 50.87% of students taking the tests — third through eighth graders take the tests, as do high school juniors — met or exceeded the state standard in English language arts, and 39.73% met or exceeded the state standard in mathematics.
Salinas showed how Tracy Unified School District’s numbers from the 2018-19 school year compare favorably with numbers from the previous two years, with a steady increase in the percentage of students districtwide who meet or exceed the state’s standards.
“As you can see, there’s a positive trend for TUSD. We are improving slightly in both ELA and in math,” she told the board.
Districtwide, the number of students meeting or exceeding the state standard added up to nearly 44% for English and about 31% for math, an improvement of about 3% for both categories over the past two years.
The rest of the students “nearly met” or “did not meet” the state standard on the most recent tests. Tracy Unified students overall have consistently tested better than San Joaquin County as a whole, but the local district’s average is lower than the state average.
Four of the seven K-5 schools improved in English, with Hirsch and Villalovoz schools the district’s top performing schools in English and math.
Data from the state Department of Education CAASPP website show that most of the district’s K-5 schools fell below the state average.
Hirsch is the exception, as those students met or exceeded the English standard at a rate of nearly 52% and the math standard at a rate of more than 42%. At Villalovoz Elementary School, more than 45% of students met or exceeded the math standard.
Central School was the lowest-scoring K-5 school in math, with about 26% meeting or exceeding the math standard. Less than 33% of McKinley students met or exceeded the English standard.
Among K-8 schools, Kelly School was the top performer for both English and math, well above the state average in both categories. Kelly students met or exceeded the standard at a rate of nearly 57% for English and more than 46% for math. Poet-Christian School also did better than the state average in both categories.
At the other end of the spectrum, North School students met or exceeded the standard at a rate of not quite 26% for English and just over 19% for math.
Both middle schools, Monte Vista and Williams, tested below the state average, with less than 40% of students meeting or exceeding the language standard and less than 25% meeting or exceeding the math standard.
All three of Tracy Unified’s mainstream high schools were well above those state averages. Kimball High was the top performing school in the district with more than 65% of high school juniors meeting or exceeding the state standard for English in the 2018-19 school year and nearly 39% meeting or exceeding the math standard.
“You’ll notice that all of the high schools made gains in this area,” Salinas said, referring to the English standard, though data for Stein High, a continuation school with a small enrollment, was not available for the previous year.
The high schools also improved in math but fell below the state average.
Salinas also broke down the numbers for different groups of students, including English learners, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and students of various ethnicities.
In describing next steps for how to improve test scores, she noted that the district has two special education residency grants, which could help the district improve recruitment of special education teachers, thus adding resources for a category of students that tends to have low test scores.
She said that the district continues to adopt programs that will improve English and math instruction at all grade levels, including an emphasis on state programs to reach English learners, who also tend, as a group, to have low test scores.
“Overall, the trend is that we’re making progress year after year. We’re trending pretty closely with the county, a little below the state,” she said.
Simran Kaur was the only trustee to ask questions about Salinas’ report and wanted to know the difference between high- and low-performing schools.
“Some of the schools we can clearly see are doing better than the others. Are we looking at why these schools are doing better than the others, or what they’ve implemented that we can potentially implement at other schools?” Kaur asked.
Salina said that the test results, and each site’s strategy for improvement, are compared and addressed in district management meetings.
“There’s definitely collaboration among the management team for best practices,” she said.