District test scores dip

For the first time in a decade, students in Newport-Mesa saw their scores decline, albeit slightly, on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments that measure proficiency in English-language arts and math and other subjects.

In the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, 67.8% of tested students scored at or above proficient in math, and 66.2% of tested students scored at or above proficient in English-language arts, according to data released Thursday.

That's a drop of 0.4 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively, from last year.

Scores in both categories had increased each year since 2003, according to data released by the school district.

Newport-Mesa attributes the slight decline to a shifting focus and lingering uncertainty about education changes in California.

"After more than a decade of growth, N-MUSD maintains a respectable level of achievement," Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Fred Navarro said in a prepared statement. "We anticipated the slight dip in scores as our focus has changed during this past year as we prepare to transition to the Common Core State Standards."

Newport-Mesa and other districts are preparing for changes to Common Core, which is intended to create similar standards nationwide that value critical thinking over recall.

These 2013 STAR results are likely to be the last year students are evaluated under the program, according to the California Department of Education, which announced the scores.

Newport-Mesa followed the statewide trend.

California scores dipped by fractions of a percentage point because of Common Core transition and lingering budget concerns, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Statewide, the number of students at or above proficient in math dropped 0.3 of a percentage point to 51.2% while the number of students at or above proficient in English-language arts dropped 0.8 of a percentage point to 56.4%.

"As you would expect for a school system in transition, results varied from grade to grade, subject to subject, and school to school, but the big picture is one of remarkable resilience despite the challenges," Torlakson said in a prepared statement.

In a news release, Newport-Mesa said it will analyze STAR data as it develops Common Core curriculum.

"The district views this as an opportunity for an academic 'audit,'" the statement said.

Detailed results including breakdowns by school, grade and subject are available at star.cde.ca.gov.

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