What Parents Should Keep in Mind
Since each student improves daily, parents and guardians are urged to look at the progress indicators over a longer period of time, and not to place too much emphasis on the standardized tests. Observation of a child’s daily progress, periodic report cards, and conferences with teachers are all important tools in keeping parents informed as to how a child is doing in school.
Parents and guardians should also keep in mind the areas in which children are not formally tested, such as verbal communication, the arts, music, and, in some grade levels, science, or physical fitness skills. All of these areas make a child whole and contribute to his/her overall learning and experience. Focusing on the larger picture will offer both parent and teacher the best indication of how a child and his/her class are doing.
The Good News
- BUSD students, on average, score above grade level and comparable or higher than national averages.
- Principals and teachers can use this comprehensive information to make necessary instructional adjustment to improve classroom instruction, and thus each child’s personal success.
- The Berkeley Evaluation & Assessment (BEA) Office is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and using data to continuously improve our instructional program in all of our schools.
Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) Webpage – 2013- includes dates for testing; overview of tests given at different grade levels; and an FAQ about the tests.
School and District Test Data
Visit the California Department of Education Web site for complete information about testing data by school or district. There you can find STAR data, as well as how this data translates into API and AYP scores for schools. Typically there is a delay as each step of the scoring process takes place. First individual student tests are graded and compiled. Student test results for tests taken in spring are mailed to parents in September.
The scores for each school are compiled and posted to the STAR website. Absolutely no individual student data is available. Use the pull-down menu to choose the county (Alameda), district (Berkeley Unified) and school you want to look at, then click on the View Report button. You can also choose to look at various subgroup data, to see, for example, how the scores for girls differ from boys.
After a period of time, these data are used to calculate API (the state measure) and AYP (the federal measure) for each school and each statistically significant subgroup at each school. A group is statistically significant if there are more than 30 children attending that school. The categories include racial/ethnic category: (Asian, African American, Latino, White); students with limited English proficiency (you’ll see that listed as LEP), students with disabilities, and low-income students. Schools must assess 95% of each student group.
Finally, that data is posted at state website.
API data is found at http://api.cde.ca.gov/reports.asp.
AYP data is found at http://ayp.cde.ca.gov/reports.asp.
AYP vs. API: California’s accountability requirements, reported as APIs, differ from federal accountability requirements, reported as AYP. API requirements are based on a “growth model,” which measures the academic success of a school on the basis of how much it improves. It acknowledges that not all schools start at the same place. Federal AYP requirements, however, are based on a “status bar model,” which measures how well a school or district meets common minimum performance targets, or status bars. It assumes all schools or districts must meet common minimum academic levels, regardless of where they started. For example, a school that showed 100 points growth in the API from 2007 to 2008 reflects a school that greatly improved its results on statewide assessments from 2007 to 2008. The growth in the school’s API reflects the progress the school made, regardless of the level of its beginning API score in 2007. However, the same school might not meet AYP criteria because its 2004 participation rate or percent proficient was below the AYP minimum target (or status bar) set for all schools. The 2008 Accountability Progress Report includes a school’s or district’s API growth alongside AYP status in order to provide more complete data about school and district progress toward proficiency on rigorous state academic standards.
It should be noted that federal requirements are not identical to state requirements and that meeting AYP criteria for NCLB is not the same as meeting school API growth targets for California accountability. In order to meet its API growth target under current state requirements, a school must increase its API score by 5 percent of the difference between the school API and 800 or maintain its API score above 800. In order to meet AYP under federal requirements, however, a school must have a minimum participation rate and percentage of its students at proficient or above in English-language arts and mathematics, attain a minimum API of 560 or API growth of one point, and meet graduation rate requirements if it serves high school students.
The 2007-08 API continues to emphasize standards-based assessments as primary measures of students’ academic achievement. These state tests include the California Standards Tests (CSTs), the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). New last year, the CAPA is a standards-based assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities, who are unable to take the CSTs. The CSTs, the CAPA, and the CAHSEE are closely aligned to state academic standards for each subject tested. BUSD schools have worked diligently to incorporate state standards into the curriculum and classroom instruction, with textbooks that address the same standards, while at the same time being aware that many important aspects of student growth and future sucess are not addressed by standardized tests.
A parents guide to NCLB produced by the federal government can be found at No Child Left Behind.