Burbank Unified students outperformed state and county peers in testing in English and math, but trailed regional districts in similar assessments, in some cases by large margins, in the latest round of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, testing.
District personnel delivered a report at a school board meeting earlier this month after results were released statewide on Oct. 9.
About 65% of district students met or exceeded English and literacy standards for career and college readiness last school year, while that number was 51% for math.
Approximately 7,890 district students were tested, using California Department of Education figures. Students who were tested were in the third through eighth grades as well as 11th grade.
“Compared to 2018, the district has made progress,” said Sharon Cuseo, the district’s assistant superintendent of instructional services.
“It is not the progress we would like to see; it’s a small increment, but it is moving in the right direction,” she added.
Burbank’s English proficiency last school year, which was at 64.71%, topped the district’s 63.42% for the 2017-18 school year.
The score continues the district’s upward trajectory, climbing for five consecutive years since a score of 56% for the 2014-15 school year.
Burbank’s performance also put the district well ahead of Los Angeles Unified (44%), Los Angeles County (50%) and the state (51%), while just barely coming short of neighboring Glendale Unified (64.14%).
However, Burbank Unified, a member of the 5-Star Education Coalition, along with Glendale, South Pasadena, La Cañada and San Marino Unified school districts, fell well behind the latter three as they posted English percentages of 83.92%, 88.94% and 89.03%, respectively.
In math, expectations were set lower statewide.
In Burbank Unified, 51.19% of students who met or exceeded math standards also marked a fifth straight year of gains, as the district has climbed from 40% during the 2014-15 school year.
Burbank first poked its head above 50% last year at 50.41%.
“We continue to outperform the county and the state. However, one thing I would like to say, though, is this is a concern for us,” Cuseo said.
“We have a lot of energy and effort and time and resources directed toward our math in the district,” she added.
The district’s most-recent percentage also positions it ahead of Los Angeles Unified (33%), the county (39%) and the state (40%).
Burbank Unified, though, was last in its 5-Star grouping behind Glendale (54.59%), South Pasadena (78.83%), La Cañada (85.19%) and San Marino (87.47%) in math.
“We’re not satisfied, but we keep it in perspective as to where we are with the county and state, so we know we’re doing a good job, but we know we need better than 51% of students in math,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said.
Cuseo said district officials have been brainstorming about how to boost scores, from monitoring performances to talking with state educational partners and even swapping ideas between teachers.
“We have a collaboration that is from each grade span,” she said. “We have teachers involved that meet regularly trying to address these problems and taking best practices back to their schools sites to try new things.”
Certain demographics also struggled, with students with disabilities appearing to need the most help.
Only 26% of that population met or exceeded English standards, while that number dropped to 17% in math.
As for ethnicities, Asian students performed best in meeting or exceeding standards for English and math, coming in at 80% and 73%, respectively.
Filipino students were next with 73% and 67% in English and math, while white students posted scores of 70% in English and 59% in math.
Black and Latino students scored lower on math standards, with totals of 37% and 36%, respectively.
Black students performed better in English, with 59% meeting or exceeding standards, while Latinos were at 54%.
Board member Steve Ferguson said he thinks a reason the numbers only slightly rise each year is partly due to cutbacks.
The deficit-spending district shaved $3.5 million from its budget this past summer, with some of that money that was reduced specifically designated for math and English assistance.
“I do want to mention that we cut interventions this year, so some of this battle is a resourcing issue,” Ferguson said.