What Parents Should Keep in Mind

Every day, throughout our school district, educators are assessing student learning and the effectiveness of our instructional programs. Feedback about what students know and are able to do helps us to improve our teaching and identify how best to serve our students. That’s why we use multiple measures to assess student learning in our district, including teacher observation and local assessments that are administered throughout the year.

Since each student improves daily, families are urged to maintain regular communication with teachers.. Student work, periodic report cards, local and state assessments are all important tools in keeping families informed about how their student is progressing in school. Families should also keep in mind the areas in which students are not formally tested. These include the arts, music,, nutrition, gardening, and physical fitness skills. All of these areas contribute to a student’s overall learning and experience.

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 Research, Evaluation & Assessment (BREA) Office is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and using data to continuously improve our instructional program in all of our schools.
  • BUSD staff has been able to look at preliminary state test results to make important decisions about staff and resource allocations as early as June. The individual student reports are sent yearly to families in the early fall.

A Changing Landscape for State Assessments

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) has replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program. The CAASPP program is only one part of the state’s multiple-measure dashboard. The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) is one metric used to measure student progress (grades 3-8, 11) in addition to Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) and the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).

For frequently asked questions about the Smarter Balanced Assessment as well as guides for families in English and Spanish, go to:

Smarter Balanced Factsheet for Parents: English | Español
Parent Guides to the Smarter Balanced Assessment (English and Español)

The SBA is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics and are comprehensive end of year assessments of grade-level learning that measure progress toward college and career readiness.

The English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics assessments are comprised of two parts: (1) a computer adaptive test and (2) a performance task, administered in the spring. Smarter Balanced assessment results include student scores, achievement levels, and descriptors that describe performance. These assessments are only one of several tools used to measure a student’s academic performance in ELA/Literacy and mathematics. Smarter Balanced Assessment results are most appropriately interpreted alongside other available information about a student’s academic achievement, including such measures as, classroom assignments and grades, classrooms tests, report cards, and teacher feedback.

Here is the superintendent’s letter to families about the spring 2016 test results.

School and District Test Data

The California Department of Education website provides complete information about testing data by school or district. 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.

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