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San Diego Schools Improve Standard Test Scores

San Diego Unified School District students improved their performance on the California Standards Test for the seventh consecutive year, although mathematics remained an area in need of extra support, according to a presentation to the Board of Education Tuesday.

Fifth, eighth and 10th graders in the state's second-largest district tied for first among large urban districts on the test's science section. Second through 11th graders scored first in English language arts and third in mathematics, said Ron Rode, executive director of the district's office of accountability. About 90,000 students were tested, he said.

"The San Diego Unified schools are definitely schools that are getting good results -- they're definitely schools worth investing in,'' board President John Lee Evans said.


Results showed 66 percent of students tested were proficient or advanced in science in 2012, 61 percent in English, 53 percent in history/social science and 52 percent in mathematics.

Those scores were up 53 percent in science, 51 percent in history/social science and 27 percent in English sections from five years ago, and the increases went back a couple years more, Rode said. Students scored 24 percent higher in mathematics, although this year's scores were unchanged from 2011.

Also reflected were achievement gaps that persisted in most cases, however Latino and black students' scores improved at a higher percentage than other groups.

This year, 83 percent of white students and 72 percent of Asian and Filipino students scored proficient on the English section, compared to 48 percent of black and 47 percent of Latino students.

English learners and economically disadvantaged students also scored lower.


"We do have some areas where we're starting to see some progress, but there's still a lot of work to do,'' Rode said.

Tenth graders' California High School Exit Exam's literacy scores rose since 2008 and mathematics scores rose between 2008 and 2011, but fell slightly this year. Those results also showed a closing achievement gap, Rode said.

The district's next steps are to identify strategies and practices used at schools with increased scores and to provide support and implement effective strategies and practices where scores had declined, Rode said. The district will also assess its available resources to focus on the most effective strategies.

The board also approved a unaudited financial report for the recently completed fiscal year that showed a general fund ending balance of $90.5 million, which rolls into the beginning balance for the budget adopted for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The general fund net unrestricted ending balance increased by $6.3 million, or 0.8 percent, due to increased revenue received, according to G. Wayne Oetken, the district's interim chief financial officer.

The report will be sent to the County Office of Education. An audited report and an external auditor's report will be presented in December.