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California

More L.A. Unified students reach goals on statewide exams, district says

Math English 25 0 25 50% 0 39% 33% 25% 29% 2016 2015 2016 2015 Source: Los Angeles Unified School District @latimesgraphics L.A. Unified School District students improved in math and English language arts on the state’s standardized tests

More students in the Los Angeles Unified School District met statewide goals on standardized tests in 2016 than they did last year, district officials said at a meeting Tuesday.

Scores on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress increased in both English and math, they reported. In English, 39% of students reached statewide goals, compared with 33% in 2015. In math, the district said, 29% of students reached those goals, compared to 25% last year. 

L.A. Unified disclosed its test-score gains in a presentation about the district’s progress toward long-term academic goals by Cynthia Lim, director of the Office of Data and Accountability.

Lim said the district had already surpassed its improvement goals for next year, which would have been 27% in math and 35% in English Language Arts. Now, the district is going to have to aim higher, based on its own progress.

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Board member Ref Rodriguez questioned whether the district is being ambitious enough in its academic expectations.

“I appreciate the goals that have already been [achieved],” Rodriguez said. “And folks are thinking about how we can up it. … Incremental doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t work for kids.”

The state plans to release results for all districts Wednesday. These tests are supposed to measure whether students in different grade levels are on track to be ready for college or their careers after high school. The tests are also referred to as Smarter Balanced, the name of the group that developed them.

The state tests are given to students in third through eighth grade, and to 11th-graders. They’re supposed to be aligned to the Common Core, a set of learning goals adopted by many states in recent years. 

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The current state testing program is relatively new. The online exams were field-tested in 2014, with no results released to the public. The first scores were made public last year, and this year marks the first time schools and districts have comparable year-over-year data on the new metrics. 

Before the scores were released last year, experts warned of a steep decrease compared to older standardized tests, because the new tests are significantly harder. 

Their predictions proved correct. And even the gains disclosed by L.A. Unified indicate that the vast majority of local students still are falling short of academic goals.

howard.blume@latimes.com | @howardblume

joy.resmovits@latimes.com | @Joy_Resmovits

sonali.kohli@latimes.com | @Sonali_Kohli

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