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Santa Monica-Malibu Students Improve Their Test Scores

Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City Council


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By Lookout Staff

September 4, 2012 -- Santa Monica and Malibu high school students increased their math scores on the California Standards Test by five points from 2011 to 2012, according to a report released Friday.

While high school students improved, elementary and middle school students' scores in mathematics remained steady, but still well above the state average.

“Our secondary math teachers have been working very hard on retooling the math curriculum and improving instructional practice,” said Rosa Serratore, the district’s math coordinator.

“We still have a long way to go, but feel confident we are on the right track to ensure that SMMUSD students are successful in rigorous and engaging mathematics."

Even if SMMUSD math teachers have a long way to go, they are ahead of the rest of the state.

According to district officials, statewide, only 29 percent of high school students scored proficient or advanced in mathematics, compared to 40 percent of high school students in the local district.

In the district, 81 percent of elementary students and 65 percent of middle school students scored proficient or higher on the state's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests.

“The 2012 results for Santa Monica-Malibu paint a picture of continued, steady gains in the percentage of students who score at the proficient or advanced levels on the CST,” officials said.

However, history scores dropped one percent in 2012.

At John Muir Elementary, the English language arts achievement soared in all grade levels, increasing by nine-percentage points overall, officials said.

Ninety-six percent of Point Dume Marine Science School students scored proficient or higher in science.

“We were really excited and proud to see that big bump in scores," said Principal, Rebecca Johnson. "Our teachers' depth of knowledge in science and their commitment to sharing their passion for the subject with our students is paying off big time!"

Santa Monica High School students gained five percentage points in math, while Malibu High students gained six.

Despite the improvements, there is still an achievement gap, albeit one that is narrowing.

African-American and Latino students have gained 24 and 26 percentage points respectively in English language arts since 2002, compared to gains of 15 points for white students during the same period.

Still, in 2012, 85 percent of white students scored proficient or higher while 57 and 51 percent of Latinos and African-American students, respectively, scored proficient or higher.

Overall, there is an upward trend in test scores in most subjects throughout the district, officials said.

“Our multi-year, upward trend reflects the high caliber of our classroom teachers and their on-going efforts to improve instructional practice,” said Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

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