California's new K-12 test scoresWhat they are, why they matter and how your school scored

California released test results for more than 3 million students.
Read our guide to what it all means, and look up how your school scored.

11th grade students at a Los Angeles magnet preparing for last year's test. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Don't know much about the tests? Here's a crash course.

Starting in January, students at more than 11,000 public schools across California sat down for up to eight hours of testing.

By the end of the school year nearly 3.2 million students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11, had completed computerized exams in math and English.

The purpose: To find out if California's kids are on track for college according to new learning standards known as the Common Core.

It was the second year for a new testing regime, known officially as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. Some school administrators like to call it "CAASPP." Others call it "Smarter Balanced," after the name of the group that created the test.

No matter the name, it's not yet clear how the tests will affect students in the classroom. The state is still developing a new system for rating schools, leaving local districts to figure out how to use the scores.

The results should not lead to negative consequences for students, officials say. But parents can expect the scores will be used to determine whether more tutoring or other forms of extra help are necessary for their child.

Check out our four quick findings below, or jump ahead and search for your school's scores.

First, the bad news: Less than half of California students met the standards

Students were quizzed on reading and writing as well as math problems and concepts. Answers were scored and students judged on whether they're on track to be prepared for college after graduation.

In the end, most students failed to meet the standard expected for their grade. Just 48% of students met or surpassed English standards. An even lower 37% of students met or beat math standards.

The low results did not come as a surprise to many. Experts have said the new exams are harder than the tests they replaced.

But some still see cause for concern.

"The vast majority of our students are going out into the world without the literacy skills they need,” said Carrie Hahnel, deputy director at The Education Trust–West.

37% Math
48% English

But there's good news: The scores are higher than last year

This year's results showed gains over last year, when the scores were first reported.

The number of students passing the English exam increased by 4 percentage points. The number passing math increased by 3 percentage points.

However, other states that administered similar tests for two consecutive years also posted small gains, and experts cautioned against reading too much into the increases.

"The second administration of a new test, scores always go up," Hahnel said.

Math English 25 50% 0 48% 44% 34% 37% ’16 ’15 ’16 ’15

California's largest school district trails the rest of the state

The new results show that L.A. Unified, the nation's second-largest school district, made gains over last year, but still lags well behind the statewide average.

The district tested more than 265,000 students. Of those 39% met or surpassed English standards and 29% met or surpassed the math standard, jumps of four and six percentage points from last year, respectively.

At a meeting Tuesday night, L.A. Unified board member Ref Rodriguez said he wanted to see those numbers moving much higher.

"Incremental doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t work for kids," Rodriguez said.

Statewide, the best-performing districts tended to come from wealthy enclaves like Montecito, San Marino and La Cañada.

29% Math
39% English
District Tested Met or exceeded in Math
1. Saratoga Union Elementary 1,546 90%
2. Hillsborough City Elementary 1,001 88%
3. San Marino Unified 1,593 87%
4. Rancho Santa Fe Elementary 462 87%
5. Cupertino Union 13,463 86%
District Tested Met or exceeded in English
1. Ballard Elementary 76 92%
2. Montecito Union Elementary 270 91%
3. San Marino Unified 1,565 89%
4. Saratoga Union Elementary 1,536 89%
5. La Cañada Unified 2,196 88%

The racial achievement gap remains large

Overall, 73% of Asian-Americans — the highest-scoring group — met English standards. Just 31% of black students did the same.

That gap was even wider in math, where 67% of Asian students met the math standards, versus 18% of black students.

The same was true in L.A. Unified, where black students both had the lowest scores of any racial group and made the smallest gains.

"It's not a pretty picture," said UCLA education professor Tyrone Howard. "We are not doing an adequate job educating poor kids, black kids, Latino kids."

Black Latino Asian 2015 Math 2016 White Other 64 67 49 44 21 48 24 18 16 53 (+3) (+4) (+4) (+3) (+2)
Black Latino Asian 2015 2016 White Other 69 73 61 55 32 37 31 28 64 59 (+4) (+3) (+4) (+5) (+3) English

See how your school stacks up

Enter the name of schools you care about to look up how many students met or exceeded standards for math and English. We've started it off with an example.

Footnotes: The Times analysis varies slightly from official numbers released by the state and some districts. Some test scores vary slightly from official sources due to how decimals are rounded. In addition, The Times includes Filipinos and Pacific Islanders among Asian Americans, even though the groups are accounted for separately by the California government. Citing student privacy the state has withheld results for schools where 10 or fewer students had valid test scores.

Sources: California Department of Education, Times analysis

Credits: Howard Blume, Joe Fox, Sonali Kohli, Lily Mihalik, Sandra Poindexter, Joy Resmovits, Ben Welsh