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District Presents Improved Student Test Results

By Sam Moskow
The Review

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education recently presented a fuller picture of student testing results for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2023.
Christiane Gervais, associate superintendent of Instructional Services, and Patrictia Cheadle, coordinator of Education Technology & Assessments, shared the 2023 results for the standardized tests during the Nov. 14 Board of Education meeting.
On the CAASPP, 82% of eligible SPUSD students in grades three through 11 passed the English Language Arts and 78% passed in math — a 5-point and 3-point percent increase, respectively, since the exam’s implementation in 2015.
The figures approach pre-pandemic proficiency rates and place SPUSD “in great standing as a unified school district in California,” Gervais said.
Students in grades three, seven and 11 demonstrated significant growth in the English language arts section, while those in grades three, four and seven improved the most in math.
Within those grades, passage rates for students who identify as Hispanic or experience developmental or intellectual disabilities have grown since the exam’s first administration. The share of passing students whose second language is English decreased 5 percentage points, but Cheadle provided context and said variance for this group is typical.
“Each year, we reclassify a good number of English learners to English proficient. So our English learner subgroup is reflective of students who continue to develop their English skills,” she said.
This academic year represented the first administration of the complete CAASPP since the 2018-2019 school year. Administrators omitted the exam the subsequent year due to the pandemic and introduced a shortened version in the 2021-2022 school year.
The previous academic year also marked the first inclusion of the California Science Test in SPUSD’s CAASPP for eligible students in grades five, eight and eleven. Among these groups, the passage rate for eleventh-grade students was particularly notable, surging 14 percentage points to reach 70% this year.
Unlike the CAASPP, the pandemic did not affect the administration of SPUSD’s 18 AP exams, which are available to South Pasadena High School students.
The passage rate for this year’s AP exams was 93%, which Gervais described as “positively impacting high school ratings.”
Cheadle called the passage rate growth for the English language and English literature exams “particularly worth celebrating.” The share of SPUSD students passing the literature exam grew 27 points over the past five years, with 96% of students passing this year and only 69% in 2018. The share of students passing the English language exam grew 9 percentage points, with 90% of students passing this year and versus 81% in 2018.
In the past year, notable subjects showing improvement included environmental science, French language, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and U.S. history, all witnessing growth ranging from 4 to 12 percentage points.
Board President Patricia Martinez-Miller acknowledged the impact of both high and low achieving outliers on this data.
“It might be only one or two kids that made that percentage difference, but how we look at it from the point of view of how we teach and how we measure learning, I think that’s a real pivot point for our continued growth,” Martinez-Miller said.
Administrators are set to analyze this year’s data to identify trends and areas for improvement, Gervais said. They plan to cross-reference this information with local assessments and present corresponding school plans to the Board at the upcoming meeting next month.

First published in the December 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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