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Student Test Scores In San Diego County Continue To Improve

Students in San Diego County continued improving their scores on standardized tests, with higher percentages scoring advanced or proficient in math and English, according to results released today by the state Department of Education.

The improvement in scores on the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program mirrored increases seen across the state, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

"In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two,'' Torlakson said. "That's nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003 -- a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning.''

More than 346,000 students in San Diego County were tested, with 63 percent scoring advanced or proficient in English-language arts and 55.3 percent in mathematics, according to figures released by the state. Last year, 60.2 percent of county students scored advanced or proficient in English and 54.2 percent achieved those levels in math.

Those scores bested the statewide average, which shows 57.2 percent scoring advanced or proficient in English and 51.5 percent in math.

"We're pleased to see that increasing numbers of county students are demonstrating proficiency in English language arts and math,'' said Music Watson, spokeswoman for the San Diego County Office of Education. "Over the last several years, we've seen a steady increase among all student in both subjects, which is a testament to the hard work of students, teachers, administrators and parents.''

She said the results still displayed an achievement gap between certain groups of students, and which school officials need to continue to address.

At the San Diego Unified School District, 61.3 percent were proficient or advanced in English, and 52.4 percent in math. That's an increase of 2.6 percent in English and a little over 1 percent in math from last year.

The district tied for the top scoring spot among California's ten largest, urban school districts on the English exams and had the third highest percentage of students reaching state targets on the math exams among those large districts.

Board of Education President John Lee Evans attributed the district’s four years of steady test score gains, in part, to keeping class sizes down through years of budget cuts. He believes the scores send one clear message.

"Very simply, San Diego schools are schools worth investing in," he said. "When you see these types of results, it’s really worth the public, the community putting the money behind it so that we can continue forward. And there are going to be a lot of decisions made this year, by the public, by the legislature and everybody else about funding for public education.”

The city's African American and Latino students continue to lag their peers on the tests, although reading scores have improved for each group more than for district students on average.

“It is a target of ours at every single campus to close the achievement gap," said Nellie Meyer, deputy superintendent of instruction for San Diego Unified. "And as part of our funding we make sure we assign specific successful strategies at every campus to meet that particular target.”

Meyer said those strategies include giving parents tips on helping with homework, providing extra vocabulary instruction for English learners and after school and weekend classes.

About 4.7 million students took part in the 2012 STAR program, which includes California Standards Tests, California Modified Assessment, California Alternate Performance Assessment and Standards-based Tests in Spanish for Spanish-speaking and English-learner students.

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