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Despite shift away from state test score obsession, LCUSD students continue steady climb to the top

Even as La Cañada Unified schools work to expand their definition of success beyond how well kids do on standardized tests, the shift in focus isn’t hurting their actual performance on such tests, according to state results released Tuesday.

LCUSD students tested this spring once again far exceeded state averages and pulled ahead of similar high-performing school districts in several areas, managing to also improve upon last year’s stellar scores.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results released Tuesday by the state Department of Education show 87.75% of LCUSD met or exceeded English standards, while 85.12% of students met or exceeded benchmarks for math.

Those figures show a slight increase from 2017 results — up 2% in both subjects — and place La Cañada Unified students’ overall performance, when measured against high-achieving districts like Arcadia, South Pasadena and Manhattan Beach unified school districts, in the top spot for English and second in math, just below San Marino Unified.


“LCUSD should be proud of these excellent scores that tell the tale of the hard work, academic rigor and high performance of our students,” Jim Cartnal, executive director of student services, said in a statement issued by the district Tuesday.

During the spring 2018 assessment period, more than 2,250 La Cañada Unified students in grades 3 through 8, and high school juniors, were tested in English Language Arts/Literacy and mathematics. The computer-adapted online tests adjusted their level of difficulty based on test takers’ responses to ascertain their apparent knowledge of a subject.

In addition to indicating what percentage of students met or exceeded proficiency standards, Tuesday’s results, viewable by district and individual campuses at, also show how well respondents performed in a number of achievement areas associated with each subject.

For example, about 69% of all La Cañada students were “above standard” in demonstrating their ability to communicate in writing on the English Language Arts/Literacy test, while 64% of the students who took the math test were found to be above standard in showing and applying their problem-solving skills.


“Our students performed brilliantly,” Supt. Wendy Sinnette said in the statement. “However, what impresses me even more is the exceptional learning that I see happening across our elementary schools, junior high and high school on a daily basis.

“Our teachers are delivering world-class instruction, and our students partner with them daily to deepen their understanding and mastery of the rigorous grade-level content standards,” she continued.

CAASPP performance is one of many state measures used to determine school district success and will be incorporated into the “California Dashboard” school accountability system, which also considers absenteeism, suspensions and college readiness, among other indicators.

The 2018-19 California Dashboard will be released later in the school year.

Twitter: @SaraCardine