Mixed data on STAR exams for Burbank schools

Local public schools saw modest gains in English but a small dip on math test scores, according to data released this week by the California Department of Education.

In Burbank, 69% of students tested as proficient or advanced in the English-language arts portion of the Standardized Testing and Reporting exam in 2013 compared to 68% who achieved the same in 2012.

In math, 57% of students scored as proficient or better compared to the 58% of students who did the same the year before.

Scores in Burbank remain above the state average. This year, 56% of California students tested as proficient or better in English-language arts and 51% did the same in math.

Across California, scores dipped by a fraction of one percentage point, which state officials attributed to ongoing budget cuts that districts have endured in recent years.

In Burbank, schools have withstood significant budget cuts in recent years and expect a $2.1-million loss in 2014. Officials, however, say that the financial picture improves after that point.

Even with cuts, Burbank schools have maintained overall gains in test scores.

The number of students who tested as proficient or better in English-language arts this year was 14% higher than the 55% of Burbank students who did in 2007.

In math, 10% more students tested as proficient or advanced than they did six years ago.

State Supt. of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, said the state’s test results overall signified “remarkable resilience despite the challenges” on behalf of educators.

“While we all want to see California’s progress continue, these results show that in the midst of change and uncertainty, teachers and schools kept their focus on students and learning,” he said in a statement.

State officials also blamed this year’s lower scores on districts’ transition to the new Common Core State Standards that enforce critical thinking and problem solving in core subjects.

In June, Burbank educators proposed a $2.9-million spending plan to make the transition, and may allot $1.5 million for 700 teachers to work after hours as they learn how to fold the new standards into the curriculum.

By the fall of 2014, the new standards are expected to be in full swing in Burbank schools.

Although this year marks the last year of the statewide use of the STAR assessments, state officials say they have been valuable.

When the STAR tests were launched in 2003, only one in three students across California scored as proficient or advanced in core subjects.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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