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Petaluma schools ahead of state average on CAASPP test

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There is still work to be done and improvements to be made, but results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test indicate that Petaluma-area schools continue to show progress.

Petaluma City Schools scored better than state and county averages in both segments of the test — English language arts and mathematics.

This is the fourth cycle of the CAASSP testing after the state went the smarter-balanced testing format based on common core standards teaching methods.

Elementary and junior high school students in grades 3-8 and high school 11th-graders were tested. Students received a score ranging from 2,000 to 3,000. Scores were ranked in four achievement levels: Standard Exceeded, Standard Met, Standard Nearly Met, or Standard Not Met.

Despite missing school days because of last October’s fires, Sonoma County schools showed gains in both language arts and mathematics, testing better than the state average in language arts and on a par in mathematics.

However, the countywide results are skewed because the county’s largest school district, Santa Rosa City Schools, did not test because of the fires. This year, just over 28.000 Sonoma County students in grades 3-8 and 11th tested. Last year, almost 36,000 participated.

Lyndsey Munn, Sonoma County Office of Education Director of Data Assessment, said that given the extraordinary circumstances of the last school year, the increase in county scores was impressive.

“The fact that student progress maintained and even increased in such an unprecedented year is remarkable,” she said. “Every single student and adult in the educational system was affected by last year’s disaster.”

Petaluma City Schools Superintendent Gary Callahan also was pleased with his district’s scores given the disruptions caused by the fires.

“We are so proud of our students and staff for continuing to show academic gains despite all the challenges we faced last year,” he said. “The fires led to lost instructional time for all our students and staff. Every single student and staff member was emotionally impacted.”

Petaluma City School scores exceeded state averages and steadly increased from third- through 11th-grade. Seventy percent of all high school 11th-graders met or exceeded expectations in language arts. Forty percent of Petaluma High School students exceeded expectations in language arts.

Petaluma schools overall scored 20 percent higher than the state average in language arts and 10 percent higher in mathematics.

Cliff De Graw, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Petaluma Schools District, pointed out that the CAASPP test is only one tool schools use to track students’ education.

“The CAASPP scores are important and included as one of the many ways we track individual student progress at school,” he said. “Our teachers utilize a variety of interim assessments, projects, reports and assignments to get a true measure of how each student is performing.”

Craig Conte, superintendent of the Old Adobe School District, pointed out that scores vary from school-to-school and grade-to-grade.

“Overall through the district our math scores tended upward,” he said. Throughout the district, third-grade math scores were moved upward, while fifth-grade scores were a little down.

He said he is particularly interested in breaking down the language arts scores as the district has concentrated on professional development of teachers emphasizing writing.

Once again Liberty Elementary set its own standard for area schools. Close to half the third- through sixth-grade Liberty students exceeded standards in both language arts and mathematics.

At a time when most districts continued to struggle in mathematics, less than 1 percent (0.85 percent) of the Liberty students failed to meet the state standard, while 46.61 percent exceeded the standard.