Amid Turmoil, Irvine Test Scores Climb


Despite a roller-coaster year of parcel tax elections, threatened teacher layoffs and an 11th-hour reprieve, students in Irvine Unified nudged impressive test scores even higher this year.

“We’re very proud of our teachers and our students for continuing to focus on results when they might have been otherwise distracted,” Deputy Supt. Dean Waldfogel said.

The Stanford 9 exam, taken each spring by all students in the state, tests basic skills in reading, math, language, spelling, science and social science, depending on the grade. Scores on the test are ranked against a nationally selected comparison group. For example, scores in the 50th percentile are better than half of those in the national group.

Rankings for Irvine in all grade levels and all subject areas ranged from the 60th to the 87th percentile. Elementary and middle school students got generally higher rankings than high school students, who still scored better than most of the national comparison group.


“It’s very, very difficult when the scores are as high as ours to move them even higher,” Waldfogel said. “So the results we’re seeing are all the more remarkable.”

A few elementary schools, such as University Park and Stone Creek, even posted double-digit gains in their percentile rankings. Second-graders at University Park, named a Distinguished School by the state earlier this year, improved their math results from the 63rd to the 84th percentile. At Stone Creek, fourth-graders had their ranking in spelling jump from the 74th to the 87th percentile.

After a proposed $95 parcel tax failed to get the required 66.7% voter approval last April, Irvine was poised to lay off more than 100 teachers and cut art, music and science enrichment programs.

In preparation for a possible election defeat, the school board sent out initial layoff notices to more than 200 teachers, who spent part of the spring not knowing where they would be employed next year.


But after the election, the Irvine Co., Donald Bren Foundation and Irvine Public Schools Foundation pledged almost $4 million to cover next year’s budget shortfall while officials examine longer-term solutions for the district’s fiscal problems.


Elementary and Middle School Scores

Students in Irvine Unified improved on already impressive test scores. The following list shows Stanford 9 test scores ranked, on average, against a nationally selected group. A score in the 99th percentile, for example, is equal to or better than all but 1% of scores in the comparison group.


Irvine Unified High School Scores