Despite signs of improvement, test scores in the West Contra Costa Unified School District continue to fall short of expectations.
That was the message on Wednesday night when the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board met to discuss the school district’s test results and Academic Performance Index ratings.
Nearly 75 percent of the district’s schools fall below the state’s target API score.
The district includes 50 schools and 30,000 students of varying ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.
“As a district, we grew. That’s a big deal for us and we want to make sure we celebrate that,” Assistant Superintendent Nia Rashidchi said, but added, “Our African-American and Latino students are underserved compared to our white and Asian students.”
The California Dept. of Education states that the API is a single number, ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, which reflects a schools performance level based on the results of statewide assessments. The state has set a score of 800 as the API target for all schools.
Fifteen schools in the district reached the 800 mark last year. Many more met their API growth targets, including Kennedy High, which grew 45 percentage points.
The district is taking steps to improve performance by bringing in subject-specific coaches for the teachers. “There was 8-percent growth in advanced math scores district wide,” said Phil Gonzalez, a math coach. ”Coaching support for teachers makes a difference in kids’ performance.”
The district is also placing a premium on community outreach. “Our families are critically important, “Rashidchi said. “We must work on engaging with our families and learning from our families.”
According to data from the California Dept. of Education Assessment and Accountability, the testing numbers are daunting.
In 11th grade, only 58 percent of WCCUSD students scored ‘basic understanding’ or above on the English Language Arts portions of the CST’s (California State Tests).
In Math, only 33 percent of graduating students scored ‘basic understanding’ or above on the CST’s.
“It’s important to know what our data says, and then plan action to move forward,” Rashidchi said.
A student representative from Middle College High spoke at the meeting, held at DeJean Middle School, “In 2012, Middle College reached 862 but that wasn’t enough for us, this year we reached 873. Our goal is 900.”