Monday, September 5, 2016

A closer look at test scores for English learners, magnet schools and charters - LA Times

A closer look at test scores for English learners, magnet schools and charters - LA Times:

A closer look at test scores for English learners, magnet schools and charters

 More than three million students across California traded in pencils for computers to take their standardized tests last school year.

You might have read about the statewide results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: More than half of the state’s public school students in grades 3 to 8 and 11th grade failed to meet benchmarks for college readiness. The test is new and considered harder than previous ones — and scores did increase from 2015, the first year scores were reported.  But they remained low — and certain groups, such as black students, lagged behind.
Some schools and districts performed very well. Some improved greatly from one year to the next. 
Across the Los Angeles Unified School District, 39% of students met standards in English and 29% in math.

At Wonderland Avenue Elementary School in the Hollywood Hills, whose students mostly are white and Asian, 84% of non-magnet students met English standards, and 83% met math standards. The school’s scores are higher still if you factor in the gifted magnet. Principal Sean Teer attributed some of the success to a new math program called “cognitively-guided instruction” that encourages students to create their own strategies for solving problems. 
The tests are aligned to Common Core, a set of standards that are supposed to emphasize critical thinking and in-depth learning over rote memorization. 
Though tests do not tell the full story of what’s happening in the classroom, the scores can be helpful in assessing the kind of education that different groups of students are receiving.
Learn more about this year’s test scores and look up your school at
Here’s a closer look:


Students in L.A. Unified’s magnet schools performed far better on state tests than did students at other district schools or charters. 
The district often touts magnets as examples of academic excellence, especially in comparison to charter schools. Part of its plan to maintain enrollment is to increase the number of these themed schools.

But the composition of test-takers at magnet schools does not reflect the district as a whole.
The magnets that got the highest scores are the gifted, highly gifted and high ability schools, comprised entirely of students who must meet certain requirements, which can include high scores on this state test. Other magnet schools accept students based on a complex lottery system that doesn’t take academic performance into account.

“This why the district’s strategy is problematic,” said UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera. While the district criticizes charters “for creaming off more privileged kids,” he said, magnets do the same. 
The magnets without such entry requirements still performed better than independent charters or other L.A. Unified schools, but by a smaller margin.
At Downtown Magnets High School, a campus comprised of two magnets, principal Jared DuPree says his schools’ high pass rates — in the 90s for English at both schools — came thanks to a strategy of targeting struggling students. “We celebrate the data but we’re A closer look at test scores for English learners, magnet schools and charters - LA Times:

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