Local schools top last year's test scores
Mountain View schools scored better than the rest of the state on the California Standards Test, officials from both local districts reported.
The Mountain View Whisman and Mountain View-Los Altos school districts also beat their own scores from previous years on the CST.
Statewide, about 50 percent of students who took the California Standards Test were proficient or more than proficient in math; 54 percent were proficient or more than proficient in English and language arts.
At the local high school district, Mountain View-Los Altos, 74 percent of students were deemed proficient or above in math, and 76 percent of students were proficient or above in English and language arts, according to Superintendent Barry Groves.
Mountain View Whisman — the elementary and middle school district — does not yet have its official scores from the state, but based upon the district's own accounting, about 70 percent of students were proficient or above in English and language arts, and about 67.5 percent scored proficient or above in math.
Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, said he is pleased with his district beating out the statewide CST scores in math and language arts proficiency by more than 20 percent. However, he considers besting his district's scores from last year the real achievement.
"I'm very pleased with the work that our students and staff have done in putting academic achievement as their first priority," Groves said.
He noted that his district has earned a consistently higher Academic Performance Index score — a score which is based in part upon CST results — for 10 years running.
Craig Goldman, superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District, also said he is happy with his district's results; like Groves, Goldman is particularly pleased to see that his district has improved since last year. The number of students scoring proficient or above grew by about 1 percent in math and 2.5 percent in English and language arts.
"At the same time we still need to make significant improvement, particularly for our middle school students in mathematics," Goldman said, calling math a "gatekeeper subject," which determines whether a student will be successful later on in their academic career.
Goldman said that his district aims to get as many of its low-income eighth-graders out of remedial math classes by the end of 2013, so in that regard this year's CST scores are encouraging.
"We see the CST scores as validation for the continuous improvement process on the steps they've taken to date," Goldman said, "but also it is validation for our next steps toward improving student performance through improved classroom instruction."
Both Groves and Goldman were cautious about placing too much importance on the outcome of standardized tests. At the same time, both superintendents said that standardized tests, such as the CST, are a valuable tool for their respective districts to measure how well they are doing as educators.
"I think we're sensitive to the issues that have been raised by a test-centric environment, but we haven't given into the tunnel vision that can result from that," Goldman said. "As a district we're not interested in teaching to the test. We're interested in teaching to the standards have been established in all subject areas."
"If you only use test scores to measure a student or district, I think that's misplaced," Groves said. "If it is one of many measures, it is valuable.
Groves added that MVLA takes a wider view of what makes a good student. Tests like the CST only measure a student's college readiness, but MVLA also invests in testing students on their creativity and problem solving skills.
"We don't do standardized tests at the exclusion of everything else," Groves said.