La Cañada tests at the top

Last week, La Cañada Flintridge school officials unveiled strong local scores in standardized test results. This week, statistics for districts throughout California were made public, and La Cañada educators found out just how learned local students are compared to children throughout the state.

The La Cañada Unified School District finished first in the state in several categories and grades, according to Standardized Testing and Reporting program results released by the California Department of Education Friday.

In English language arts, La Cañada third, sixth, ninth and 11th graders were first in the state, with 92, 94, 94 and 88% of students, respectively, meeting or exceeding the state targets.

In mathematics, La Cañada was first in third, fourth, sixth and seventh grades and 8-11 general math with 98, 95, 94, 94 and 84% of students, respectively, meeting or exceeding state goals.

The district was also the best in the state in world history, with 83% of students meeting or exceeding goals, and third-best in U.S. history, in which 84% of students met or exceeded the state benchmarks.

“The results were very gratifying,” said Scott Tracy, president of the school board. “In particular I’d like to recognize the leadership of [Supt.] Wendy Sinnette. In her first year — in a challenging year with a lot of distractions — no one took the eye off the ball. And that’s true with staff, teachers and students.”

Said Sinnette, “It’s always a concerted effort. It’s all the hard work of the teachers and the students, and the support from the parents.”

Sinnette added that she was most impressed with the Algebra I scores.

“It was a huge gain for us. We went from 78% to 93%,” she said.

Tracy said math was a particular focus of school administrators in 2011-12, with the board setting a goal of improving math instruction at La Cañada High School.

“Wendy was able to allocate some additional resources and go from there,” he said. “It was a major focus.”

La Cañada also excelled in comparison to nearby school districts.

“Ourselves, San Marino, Piedmont and Manhattan Beach did very well,” Tracy said.

In English, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District had two top scores and San Marino Unified School District one compared to La Cañada’s four.

San Marino had three top scores in math compared to La Cañada’s five.

Manhattan Beach had two top scores in science, while neither San Marino nor La Cañada garnered a top placement in that subject.

In history and social science, La Cañada and San Marino each got one top score.

Despite the district’s impressive performance, Sinnette said, “We want to keep plugging away. We’re always dedicated toward improvement.”

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