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A closer look at MDUSD STAR results

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 at 12:42 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The state Department of Education released Standardized Testing and Reporting (or STAR) results Monday, showing that the percentage of students scoring proficient in math and English language arts rose slightly statewide from 2010 to 2011.

The chart below shows that Mt. Diablo school district students did better than the statewide average, but scored lower than the county average. The English language arts score is listed first, followed by the math score.

Acalanes 85% 56%
Antioch 47% 38%
Brentwood 66% 69%
Byron 62% 65%
Canyon 80% 70%
John Swett 46% 42%
Knightsen 64% 68%
Lafayette 85% 85%
Liberty 53% 26%
Martinez 67% 62%
Moraga 92% 91%
Mt. Diablo 57% 52%
Oakley 56% 53%
Orinda 92% 92%
Pittsburg 41% 42%
San Ramon 84% 78%
Walnut Creek 81% 80%
West Contra Costa 42% 38%

All students in grades 2 through 11 took English tests. Math tests were given through ninth grade and at the end of higher level courses. Science was tested in fifth, eighth and 10th grades and at the end of higher level courses. Students in grades eight and 11 took history-social science tests. Modified tests were given to some special education and English learner students.

Here’s a closer look at the overall change in the Mt. Diablo district’s proficiency rates:

English language arts (grades 2-11): 56.6 percent
History (grades 8, 11 and end-of-course): 48.5 percent
Math (grades 2-7 and end-of-course): 49.5 percent
Science (grades 5, 8 and 10): 56.7 percent
Science (end-of-course): 42.0 percent

English language arts (grades 2-11): 56.8 percent (+ 0.2 percent)
History (grades 8, 11 and end-of-course): 49.8 percent (+ 1.3 percent)
Math (grades 2-7 and end-of-course): 52.1 percent (+ 2.6 percent)
Science (grades 5, 8 and 10): 57.5 percent (+ 0.8 percent)
Science (end-of-course): 40.2 percent (- 1.8 percent)

The district received School Improvement Grants for four of its lowest-achieving schools, intended to help boost student achievement. Here’s a side-by-side overall look at changes from 2010 to 2011, which shows improvement in all areas tested at the elementary schools, but drops in most areas at Glenbrook Middle School:

Bel Air Elementary
English language arts (grades 2-5): 21.2 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 40.5 percent
Science (grade 5): 11.5 percent

English language arts (grades 2-5): 21.9 percent (+ 0.7 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 47.0 percent (+ 6.5 percent)
Science (grade 5): 32.9 percent (+ 21.4 percent)

Rio Vista Elementary
English language arts (grades 2-5): 25.6 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 42.7 percent
Science (grade 5): 8.7 percent

English language arts (grades 2-5): 33.0 percent (+ 7.4 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 61.7 percent (+ 19 percent)
Science (grade 5): 20.4 percent (+ 11.7 percent)

Shore Acres Elementary
English language arts (grades 2-5): 23.9 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 41.6 percent
Science (grade 5): 13.2 percent

English language arts (grades 2-5): 25.7 percent (+ 1.8 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 48.5 percent (+ 6.9 percent)
Science (grade 5): 16.7 percent (+ 3.5 percent)

Glenbrook Middle School
English language arts (grades 6-8): 35.8 percent
History (grade 8): 32.9 percent
Math (grades 6-7 and end-of-course): 17.7 percent
Science (grade 8): 42.9 percent

English language arts (grades 6-8): 30.0 percent (- 5.8 percent)
History (grade 8): 34.9 percent (+ 2.0 percent)
Math (grades 6-7 and end-of-course): 9.4 percent (- 8.3 percent)
Science (grade 8): 35.9 percent (- 7.0 percent)

The district has closed Glenbrook and will send students in that attendance area to El Dorado, Oak Grove and Valley View middle schools. The district’s grants for Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres are in jeopardy of being lost, unless the district can show it will increase instructional time for all students at those sites in 2011-12, despite the board’s plan to decrease the school year by five days.

This is among the first batch of scores to be released in the upcoming test result season: STAR scores are used to calculate a campus’ Academic Performance Index, or API, which are expected to be released Aug. 31, and to calculate Adequate Yearly Progress according to No Child Left Behind, which will also be released Aug. 31.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence released the following News Update on Tuesday, reviewing the STAR results and inviting parents to assist principals in analyzing school scores and developing plans for improvement:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
August 16, 2011

Over the past four years, because of the state budget crisis, we’ve made significant programmatic reductions at our school sites. Despite these reductions our teachers, support staff, and administrators continue to work incredibly hard to meet the learning needs of our students. Please join me in recognizing and thanking these dedicated professionals.

The annual STAR results were released yesterday by the California Department of Education. As a District, we will continue to focus on the use of internal and external assessment data to guide instructional decisions. General trends in student performance on the STAR test reinforce the need for

– a strategic and targeted approach to standards-based instruction and assessment

– continued focus on improving the learning opportunities for all students

– particular attention on efforts to close the achievement gap between our higher performing students and students performing at far below and below basic levels.

In mathematics, STAR results showed a slight increase district-wide in the percentage of students achieving proficient and advanced levels. At the elementary level, many schools made significant gains in the number of students at these two levels, and almost all of our middle schools made some gains in this area. In order to ensure all our students will be able to compete in the global economy, we must continue to increase the number of students taking the Algebra II and the Summative Math California Standards Tests and increase the percentage of students measuring proficient or advanced on these tests. Job trend data clearly confirms high school graduates who have a firm understanding of Algebra II math skills will have a broader opportunity for living wage jobs and careers.

In English Language Arts, STAR results showed inconsistent achievement across district schools. At the elementary level our English Learner students showed some gains, but not at the same level as their gains in math. In most middle schools, test scores reflected greater student proficiency in language arts. At the high school level, students at Mt. Diablo High School demonstrated increased performance in both language arts and mathematics.

Overall, the results of statewide testing reinforces the need for site based professional discussions that focus on the development of

– common, standards aligned assessments and

– unit lesson plans aligned to the common assessments.

The data collected from common assessments allows teachers and site leadership teams to identify areas where the best instructional practices are in place and areas where gaps exist that must be addressed. Once we assure all students receive daily instruction that includes the critical elements of effective instruction, the data can be used to identify students requiring additional help and those students who are ready for additional challenges.

At each school site, leadership will work with teachers and parents to analyze the school’s data to determine which target growth areas were met, exceeded or not achieved. We can learn a great deal from our successes to help inform us around areas where we need to improve. This analysis process assists each site in updating their Single Plan for Student Achievement. As a parent, if you would like to participate in the analysis process at your child’s school, please contact the principal today.

If you would like to view school test scores, please visit:”

Are you satisfied with student proficiency levels at district schools?

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29 Responses to “A closer look at MDUSD STAR results”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, excellent factual comparison. I apologize for a repeat of my prior post, but it is very relevant to this subject. The subdued nature of Lawrence’s report is to prepare the public for bad news to come on the release of the API scores at the end of the month. The district buys a computer program that gives them the ‘rough” API scores, within a point or two. Lawrence is reading the tea leaves [he ought to teach Gary how to do it]. Last year [that was really Nichols year as Supt] the District API rose a modest 11 points. But now under Lawrence with his SASS reorganization, the API score will be flat ! No increase in the district or maybe one point. Now here is the irony. Two of the persistently low performing schools, Rio Vista and Meadow Homes will post increases of over 65 and 50 points ! [High fives for them!] Yet Lawrence fires the Meadow Homes principal Toby Montez !! Go figure ! So how does the district API remain flat with gains like that ? Almost across the board in the “other schools” their scores are flat or decreasing. That is bad news for the children, bad news for the parents, bad news for the District, bad news for the Board, and bad news for Lawrence’s “leadership”. But it is consistent with the Steue record in West Sacramento and Roseville. The Board bet on the wrong horse.

  2. Number Eight Says:

    What date are API scores released?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    API and Adequate Yearly Progress scores will be released Aug. 31.
    The state expects to release California High School Exit Exam passage rates Aug. 25.
    High school graduation and dropout rates were released last week.

  4. Just J Says:

    So we did a little better then state scores but the problem is the U.S. is at the bottom of global scores and California is in the bottom of the U.S. so what does that tell you Mr. Lawrence about being able to compete in the world. This is horse Sh%$. Get out of the way and let the GOOD teachers do their job and FIRE the bad teachers.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    During his press conference, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said California students ranked about 46th nationally in English and math.
    However, he blamed some of the state’s relatively low achievement on a lack of school funding compared to per pupil funding in other states.

  6. Number Eight Says:

    Torlakson did not mention the possibility of providing a better quality education at less cost with online and long-distance learning. This could save the expense of buying, updating, storing and transporting textbooks. This could provide a broader variety of courses such as Latin, Russian, Arabic, design and engineering, and heck even computer programming. This could allow teachers to break up classes into small groups for differentiation. Strange that California with Silicon Valley in the 21st Century doesn’t consider this option.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    While Torlakson didn’t specifically mention online and distance learning, he did tout his recently released “A Blueprint for Great Schools” report:
    This includes the following recommendation under Curriculum and Assessment:
    “Facilitate the infusion of 1:1 computing in school, after school, and in the home; provide devices, Internet access, new digital curriculum materials, capacity for ongoing diagnostic assessment, professional development and network support; and institute an open standard for the exchange of educational information.”

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On a separate, but related note, I just spoke to Mike Langley about union negotiations related to increasing instructional time for School Improvement Grants, along with including student performance in teacher evaluations.
    He said the district and union “are hammering out language.”
    He has tentatively reserved a room at Willow Creek Center on Friday to meet with the union’s executive board. However, that will only happen if the negotiating teams can agree on a proposal by then.
    ” We’re pretty close,” he said. “There just hasn’t been anything to report, but there has been conversation. Nobody’s giving up on this.”

  9. Really?? Says:

    All that with no money…great idea, Tom. Next…

  10. Just J Says:

    I have been trying to find the per pupil spending in the top 10 states vs California. I can’t find anything. If someone knows where to get this info it would be great to compare.

  11. g Says:

    Just J: Most thorough reports are from current census using figures from 2009 at:

  12. Just J Says:

    Thank you G. Looks like California is right in the middle. We are just below the national avg.

  13. g Says:

    Just J: The most disappointing is the amount based on personal income. I’ve closed the site now, but if I remember right, I believe it was based on “per $1000.00 of income” and CA ranked around 38th. Surprising to see that what is considered to be a really poor state, West Virginia, spens up in the top 10 for their kids education!

  14. Number Eight Says:

    Theresa #7,
    It should be linked to the Blueprint under “School Finance” to show possible savings. “School Finance” recommends “re-examining textbook adoption” and “emerging technologies,” but don’t take the leap to online coursework for savings. Each of the 1,000 California school districts will approach this differently and at their own pace. I’d like to see Torlakson show leadership during this budget crisis with a model technology plan and online curriculum.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #8, MDEA is willing to give its SIG teachers a 15% raise for teaching an extra hour four days a week, but still be subject to furlough days. I can’t believe the teachers will be happy about it. And how can non-SIG teachers feel about being discriminated against ? The teachers better rise and shout before Friday — MDEA thinks they can modify the agreement without a union vote — what a mistake. I think the district is counting on this to divide and destroy MDEA in the district.

  16. Michael Langley Says:

    To be clear, MDEA negotiated an increase in pay for members who will have an increase in their site time. If the District asked us to increase site time for all our members, we would expect pay to reflect that additional time requirement. When “furlough” days are put in place, our members get pay reduction in line with the fewer hours required on site.
    Increased or decreased site time does not include the many hours our educators spend to plan lessons and assess the outcomes of their time with students.
    Due to the requirement that changes be put in place before the first student day, the team negotiating with the district continued to consult with members of the MDEA Executive Board. The Executive Board was elected by our membership to act in their interest. Although the Executive Board can authorize the President to sign an MOU, we decided from the beginning of negotiations to include the Representative Assembly (RA) in the process. The RA is a body of elected representatives from each site. We will be meeting on Friday to vote on the MOU.
    Much has been said about who has the advantage in these negotiations, yet few have mentioned the most important element. How do we deliver the best education possible to our students while maintaining decent working conditions for our educators in these continuing fractured economic conditions? Well, we don’t do it by settling scores or counting coups.
    We are confident that we hammered out a good agreement. Unlike normal negotiations for our contract, we could have broken off talks and no change could have been imposed. The three schools would have lost the SIG funds. It may still happen if the reapplication by the district fails to gain approval by the State. However, in this case, we feel that both the Union and the district management balanced education and finance in finding a solution.
    Thank you.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just got off the phone with Mike Langley, who said he will send me a copy of the MOU, if it is approved by the executive board, for publication before the Friday vote of the Rep Assembly.

  18. wait a minute Says:

    While It makes sense that the SIG money should be spent on increasing instruction time in order improve learning:


    Not only did Lawrence knowingly commit a fraud by lying on the applications a year ago stating that negotiations had already started with the MDEA to increase instructional time, he has been spending the monies on other things.

    My guess is that this money has been appropriated to benefit administrators rather then the classrooms!

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Mike, I appreciate your comments and believe they are sincere. But only three schools out of 40 plus are being helped here. There are over 37 schools where children are not getting everything they deserve. How are you going to help all schools ?

  20. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Wait A Minute #18,

    The money has clearly been spent on administrator raises. Remember the Gang of Five, how about solar classes, unnecessary overnight stays in Sacramento, the list goes on an on.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the full text of the proposed MDEA agreement:

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence said a year ago HE would be judged by HIS “Goals and Objectives” and had them adopted by the Board. Now one year later the STAR test results are out and the “estimated” API scores — in fact Lawrence gave out a rather dismisal report of the STAR test results. PLEASE go back and read them, and then start plugging the numbers in. Lawrence flunked the test.

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    State Superintendent Tom Torlakson is asking for relief from NCLB sanctions for CA schools that aren’t meeting their targets: :
    API and AYP results are expected to be released next week.

  24. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #23 Torlakson is willing to sacrifice another year or two or three of children instead of requiring schools and districts to make the difficult changes to improve the ways things are done. You saw Lawrence’s dismal report on the Star tests. Rumors have it that almost a third of the elementary schools API test scores dropped and worse yet, more than half of the middle schools and high schools API scores dropped. Yet, at MDUSD its business as usual — children getting shortchanged on their education, solar panels being the top priority, and bond funds being spent without proper audits and accountability.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have posted the board’s most recent administrative appointments, including a new Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support, who was promoted from her previous position as a SASS coach:

  26. Doctor J Says:

    The MDUSD Lawrence buddy system in action: The male hispanic principal whose Meadown Homes elementary school shoots up an est 54 API points gets fired and the female caucasian elementary principal in Pleasant Hill whose school drops an est 30 API points is still at the helm. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

  27. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Tobey was fired? I thought he was going to El Monte while their principal is on maternity leave.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @FT, the whole Meadow Homes community knows what happened and was quite upset, as was he — he didn’t get his “temporary job” until the community put up a stink.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Montez told me he was removed from his position at Meadow Homes, with the understanding that he would be placed somewhere else.

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