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Local schools improve English, math skills

August 15, 2011|By Megan O'Neil; megan.oneil@latimes.com

Glendale and Burbank schools continue to make modest test score gains in core subjects, according to data released Monday by the California Department of Education.

In Glendale, 69% of students tested at or above proficiency on the English-language arts portion of the California Standards Test, administered each spring to assess the progress of students grades two through eight. In math, 65% of students met or exceeded grade-level expectations.

The rates topped those from 2010, which were 66% and 63% in English language arts and math, respectively.

Burbank Unified also notched gains, with 65% of students testing at or above proficiency in English, up from 63% of students in 2010. And 56% of Burbank students scored at or above proficiency in math, up from 54% the previous year.

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Sharon Cuseo, Burbank Unified director of instruction and accountability, described the gains as “modest, but good.”

“I think it is a reflection that our teachers and our students are all working really hard…We give a lot of attention to our instruction,” Cuseo said.

The numbers were a first look at data that will be analyzed in the coming weeks as part of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, launched in 2003 to assess student learning and reinforce curriculum standards.

They are a key variable in Academic Performance Index scores, which grade the overall performance of a school site. They also factor into federal Academic Yearly Progress reports.

Educators will use the numbers to identify what instructional practices are working, and what needs to be tweaked, said Glendale Unified Assistant Supt. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian.

“We want to celebrate our success, but this is also one measure that helps us really look at our instruction,” Thorossian said. “There are some areas where we think, ‘Gosh, we really need to target a little bit more.’”

On the exams, students score advanced, proficient, basic, below basic or far below basic. School-specific data is available on the California Department of Education website.

The gains at Glendale and Burbank schools reflected a statewide trend. This year, 54% of California students tested proficient or better in English language arts, while 50% tested proficient or better in math. Those were up from 52% and 48%, respectively, in 2010.

“The significant and sustained improvements we’ve seen for nine consecutive years prove how hard teachers, school employees, administrators and parents are working to help students achieve despite budget cuts that have affected our schools,” state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.

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