Test scores up in Glendale, Burbank

GLENDALE — More students in Glendale and Burbank are meeting or surpassing their grade level requirements, according to data released Monday by the California Department of Education.

The growth is on par with the rest of the state, which saw its scores increase for an eighth consecutive year. State scores grew by about two percentage points to 52.3% in English language arts and 48% in math.

In Glendale, 66.7% students tested at or above proficiency on the English portion of the California Standards Test, an accountability exam that's intended to measure student skills at grade level.

The score improved from 64% last year and 59.6% in 2008, while math scores increased by more than 2% to 63.4%, up from 61% in 2009.

"It's all positive trends, things are moving in a positive direction," Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

More than 63% of Burbank Unified students met their target in English, up from 61% last year and 57% in 2008. In math, students improved from 53.8% in 2009 to 54.1%.

But the district snapshot excludes schools like Disney Elementary and other campuses with many students on a free or reduced lunch program, a poverty indicator, that have seen double digit growth in some subjects, said Jennifer Meglemre, the curriculum and assessment coordinator in Burbank.

"Those schools have focused a lot of energy on a systemic program that looks at students where they are and tries to bring them up, [and] their scores just keep going up," she said. "We feel like the interventions we've put in place are really paying off. That's what we're seeing this year."

The California Standards Test is a central component that determines elementary and middle school Academic Performance Index, a measure that contributes to property values that is scheduled to be released Aug. 31. It also determines the API of high schools, but is weighed with other variables, like the exit exam.

Students can score in five categories: Advanced, proficient, basic, below basic or far below basic. State policymakers have set "proficient" as the minimum target for all students.

Federal law sets an escalating achievement target that districts must hit each year. That Annual Yearly Progress report is also scheduled to be released Aug. 31. Eventually districts will have a tough task attempting to reach 100% proficiency by 2014, as prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act, said Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

"The increases of Glendale Unified scores is further evidence of the excellent teaching in the district and a reason we have to do everything to keep teachers in the classroom," she said. "As all districts are, we are going to hit a wall on standardized tests because…it's impossible to hit 100% proficiency."

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