Assessment scores remain steady in Orange County, which outpaces state and regional averages

Orange County’s public school students continued to outperform peers regionally in the latest round of standardized tests, with 57 percent reaching proficiency or higher in English language arts and 48 percent doing the same in math, according to figures released today.

Overall, local scores from the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessments were, at every grade level, within a point or two of those posted the previous year.

CAASPP test results 2017The standards-aligned tests, now in their third year, are the state’s primary measure for student achievement in math and English language arts. They’re also the main component of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress system, or CAASPP.

Last spring, about 3.2 million students statewide in grades 3 through 8 and 11 took the tests, which were administered online. About 263,000 students in Orange County were tested.

Statewide, 49 percent of students tested proficient or advanced in English language arts, while 38 reached proficiency or higher in math. California’s scores also remained relatively unchanged compared to the previous year.

“While the rate of growth on these assessments reflects the monumental task of shifting to more challenging instructional standards based on real-world applications, as well as the transition to computer-based exams, we are pleased that Orange County students continue to outpace state and regional averages,” Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares said.

“At the same time,” he said, “our local districts remain committed to increasing proficiency rates and closing longstanding achievement gaps through data-driven interventions and staff collaboration.”

Mijares said the expanded use of data and schoolwide collaboration are central features of a new framework that campuses are increasingly leveraging to address not just the academic performance of students, but also their social-emotional and behavioral needs, which are contributors to educational achievement. It’s known as the multi-tiered system of support, or MTSS, and the Orange County Department of Education has been tapped to scale up its use statewide through a partnership with the Butte County Office of Education and the SWIFT Center, which is providing technical assistance.

“This initiative, which has been funded by the California Department of Education, has the potential to be transformative in our schools,” the superintendent said.

This year’s math and English language arts tests were created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to replace the California Standards Tests, which were last administered in 2013. Because it’s web-based, the newer version offers a more personalized experience. If a student answers a question right, for example, the next one will be tougher. When the student gets one wrong, an easier question follows.

Here are some of the highlights from today’s test score release:

  • For the third consecutive year, higher percentages of Orange County students met or exceeded standards at every grade level in both ELA and mathematics when compared to both statewide and regional county scores. Here are the rates of students who scored proficient or better in surrounding counties: Riverside County, 45 percent in ELA, 32 percent in math; San Diego County, 56 percent in ELA, 44 percent in math; Los Angeles County, 47 percent in ELA, 36 percent in math; San Bernardino County, 42 percent in ELA, 29 percent in math; Ventura County, 47 percent in ELA, 36 percent in math.
  • Thirty-six percent of Orange County 11thgraders in ELA and 20 percent of 11thgraders in mathematics scored in the advanced level, meaning these student are considered ready for English and/or mathematics college-level coursework.
  • Eleventh-graders showed the highest percentages of meeting or exceeding standards in ELA at 67 percent.
  • Individual student reports were sent out to parents. They should arrive by the end of this month if they haven’t already.

The CAASPP scores make up a key ingredient of the California School Dashboard, the new accountability system that replaced the Academic Performance Index. These test scores will be used in conjunction with suspension rates, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism figures, college and career readiness data, and other information to determine if schools and districts are making enough progress in support of student success.

The California School Dashboard that will include Tuesday’s test scores is scheduled to be released Dec. 1. In the meantime, the public can access CAASPP results for schools and districts, as well as additional information, at