LAUSD Test Scores Improve---Slightly

Stanford 9 test scores for Los Angeles students proficient in English increased by 1 percentile point this year but the LAUSD still ranks in the bottom third in the nation, according to preliminary results released Monday.

The average composite score for students went from the 31st percentile in the nation to the 32nd, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said. School officials chose not to release scores of most students who are in bilingual classes.

”I am encouraged, but it is only a start,” said Superintendent Ruben Zacarias.

David Tokofsky, a member of the Board of Education, said this should serve as a morale-booster that will encourage the LAUSD to continue its focus on boosting exam results.

Zacarias has vowed to raise scores by eight percentile points in four years.

The results cover scores from 336,174 students who speak English fluently or are enrolled in advanced bilingual education classes.

Students in grades 2 through 8 were tested in reading, written expression, spelling and mathematics. Students in grades 9 through 11 were also tested in science and history-social science.

Results are given in percentiles, showing how students and districts ranked against others in the nation.

Board of Education President Julie Korenstein said she was especially pleased to see the rise in scores among the schools identified as the 100 worst in the district. Last year, the LAUSD’s 100 worst scored at the 19th percentile; this year, scores climbed to the 20th percentile.

Korenstein pointed out that even though intervention programs had not gotten under way for the 100 schools, including Saturday school and after-school tutoring, progress had been seen.

”I hope next year we’ll see an even higher increase – that’s the year I’m really looking at,” Korenstein said. ”We’re going in the right direction but we have to push aggressively to go even further.”

As the LAUSD continues to crunch numbers, it is expected to release yet another composite score, this time including students in all bilingual classes who took the test.

Zacarias said with the inclusion of those numbers, he expects to see the district’s composite score drop.

”You’re testing kids who would be scoring zero, kids who can’t even read the instructions,” Zacarias said.

The state required that the Stanford 9 be given to children in grades 2 through 11. Controversy erupted when the state required all children to take the test in English – even those in bilingual classes.

While the LAUSD has philosophically opposed the testing of all bilingual students, some districts this year fought it in court. Last week, a judge issued a temporary restraining order banning the state from releasing scores of limited-English-speaking students.

LAUSD officials, saying they were unsure of how they should react to the court order, issued scores only of students fluent in English. Those numbers showed the district’s composite score climbing from the 39th percentile to the 40th.

But reporters protested because last year the LAUSD tested and reported results that included the advanced bilingual students.

After some discussion, the LAUSD agreed to recalculate its numbers.

On Monday, attorneys for the state were scheduled to file papers asking the Court of Appeals to overturn or limit the restraining order, said Doug Stone, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

Under state law, all students’ scores were to be posted on the Internet today. The judge’s order sent state officials and the testing company scrambling to weed out the bilingual data.

On Monday afternoon, Stone said some data would be released today, although it might not be possible to present all the information once promised. Scores by every grade for every subject were supposed to be presented by school, district, county as well as the state as a whole.

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Results of the Stanford 9 standardized test show that students in the Los Angeles Unified School District advanced 1 percentage point closer to the mean national average. On Monday, the district tabulated its scores two ways: only for its students fluent in English; and then English-fluent students plus the most advanced of its limited-English proficient (LEP) students.

Scores only for students fluent in English:

1997: 39th percentile (220,737 students took the test)

1998: 40th percentile (248,848 students took the test)

Scores for English-fluent and advanced LEP students:

1997: 31st percentile (326,762 students)

1998: 32nd percentile (336,174 students)

Scores for its 100 worst schools:

1997: 19th percentile (64,498 students)

1998: 20th percentile (64,560 students)

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