The La Cañada Unified School District said its students scored high above the state averages in the California Department of Education’s academic evaluation, ranking second overall in English and math. The results reflected a continuation of LCUSD students’ outstanding performance in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.
In English, 88.94% of district students met or exceeded state standards, compared with the state average of 50.87%, and the LCUSD trailed only the nearby San Marino Unified School District (89.03%). In math testing, 85.19% of local students met or exceeded standards, compared with the state average of 39.73%, as the LCUSD ranked just below San Marino (87.46%).
“We are incredibly proud of our students,” said Karen Hurley, the district’s director of programs and services.
Students in grades 3-8 and 11 were tested in the spring, and mean scale scores showed the LCUSD ranked first, second or third in the state in a variety of grade levels.
La Cañada High School 7/8 ranked No. 1 in English for 8th-graders’ scale scores — its 7th-graders’ marks were the second-highest — while LCHS 11th-graders’ tally also was the state’s best. The district placed second in scores for the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. It also placed third in 3rd-grade marks.
In math, LCHS 7/8 placed first in 8th-grade and second in 7th-grade scale scores. The district placed second in 4th-, 5th- and 6th-grade marks. Third- and 11th-graders also placed third in their respective levels.
District officials said this was the third year in a row that LCHS juniors ranked in the top three statewide in English and math.
Hurley said test data is provided by the state to districts and is reported in scale scores. If the data is analyzed using different criteria showing the percentage of students that met or exceeded state standards, the district placed third in math. When using the criteria that shows mean test scores, or averages, the district placed second.
“We continue to make progress, and that is the most substantial metric,” Hurley said. She said that after analyzing the data, teachers and administrators use it to guide their decisions regarding the instruction of current students, making adjustments according to data from former students’ performance.
“Analyzing areas of strength and areas in which students may need additional individual instruction or support is part of the continuous learning cycle,” Hurley said.
Other measures used to define student growth and progress include tests and quizzes, quick checks after concepts have been taught, reading inventories, teacher observations, project-based learning outcomes, student presentations and more, Hurley said.
She said the district is proud that student performance has continually increased over the past three years in English and math, but noted that scores in the former category outpaced those in the latter discipline.
“Although the standards are extremely rigorous in both subject areas, the more recent demands in the math standards to engage in problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections has challenged students and developing mastery skills here may take more practice,” Hurley said.
She added LCUSD has a great working relationship with its neighboring school districts.
“We reach out to each other to share ideas and best practices,” she said. “I’d say the working relationships are more collaborative than competitive.”
In a statement, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the scores provide a meaningful standard for the district.
“LCUSD students performed extremely well and continued to demonstrate growth, which is really impressive,” Sinnette said. “Annually, with the release of these scores, I take special note of what I see taking place on our campuses every day. Our students are engaging deeply in the learning process, collaborating with their peers, and innovating — creating new ideas and constructs with the concepts and standards that teachers deliver through their lessons.
“Our teachers work tirelessly to ensure that their instruction is world class. They are dedicated to the success of every learner. Our students, teachers and support staff are all to be commended for their outstanding achievements.”
District officials said the CAASPP results will be used for the California Dashboard, the state school accountability system, which includes graduation rate, college and career readiness, English learner process, suspension rate and more.