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 Scores Up in State Testing Program Despite Budget Cuts

​San Diego County students improved their performance on rigorous state tests in both math and English Language Arts at the elementary, middle and high school levels last year, County Superintendent Randy Ward announced at a news conference this week, where he was joined by State Superintendent Jack O’ Connell and San Diego Unified schools chief Terry Grier.

“This is good news for all 42 traditional school districts in San Diego County,” Ward told reporters at the Correia Middle School news conference, “and also for the 43rd school district, the Juvenile Court and Community Schools operated by the San Diego County Office of Education.”

Ward and O’Connell both pointed out that the improved scores on the 2009 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program were achieved at the same time schools in San Diego County and throughout the state were battered by historic budget cuts.

This school year, Ward said, schools will receive nearly $1,300 less per student than they did just two years ago as a result of the state budget crisis.

Despite the budget cuts, the STAR results showed improvements among Latino, African American, white and Asian students. Improvements among Latino and African American students were slightly greater than those recorded by white and Asian students, so the chronic achievement gap between students of different ethnic groups narrowed slightly.

That progress was too small for educators to be content with, Ward said, stressing the importance of attracting high-quality teachers to every classroom in San Diego County. “We need a high-quality learning environment for every student if we’re going to raise the achievement of all students, and at the same time close the achievement gap.”

Grier said the STAR results showed greater improvements than the three previous years combined, attributing the gains to high-quality teaching and strong relationships between school staff, students and teachers, and schools and families. He specifically commended three San Diego Unified campuses---Correia, Kearny High, and Edison Elementary---and asked their principals to address the news media at Correia.

Each of the three principals, Tavga Bustani of Edison, Ana Diaz-Booz of Kearny, and Patricia Ladd of Correia, echoed Grier’s comments on the value of powerful teaching and staff collaboration.

O’Connell said the STAR results measured the academic achievement of more than 4 million California public school students in grades 2-11, in English Language Arts, math, history/social science, and science. Scores have climbed for the seventh consecutive year, O’Connell said, at the same time California’s academic standards have been raised to be among the nation’s most rigorous.