BALDWIN PARK – Baldwin Park Unified students improved their performance in English language arts (ELA) and math on the state’s second round of testing on the California Standards for English language arts (ELA) and math, according to data released Aug. 24.

Overall, student performance climbed by 5 percentage points in ELA and 3 percentage points in math on the two computer-based exams, the centerpiece of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).

The exams – created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and administered in spring to students in grades three through eight and 11 – gauge writing, critical thinking and problem-solving skills far beyond the scope of California’s previous standardized tests.

“These results demonstrate that the instructional adjustments we are making in our classrooms are taking root and bearing fruit,” Superintendent Froilan N. Mendoza said. “Our next step is to identify schools that have made significant growth and analyze their practices so we can replicate them at other schools.”

The new test scores offer the first chance for schools to track growth in student understanding of the California Standards, implemented three years ago. The standards focus on student-driven instruction, collaboration, technology integration and critical thinking.

The CAASPP is one of multiple measures of student performance in a new state public school accountability system now under design. Other measures may include graduation data, school climate, discipline, and college and career readiness.

Baldwin Park Unified students who are economically disadvantaged made some of the District’s most significant gains, rising 9 percentage points in ELA and 6 percentage points in math. The subgroup all but eliminated the achievement gap with scores posted by all students. Nearly 90 percent of the District’s students qualify for free or reduced priced meals, the state’s poverty standard.

Economically disadvantaged students also outperformed state averages in ELA and math. Scores also rose for Hispanic students in ELA and math; English learners boosted scores in ELA and remained steady in math.

Even greater gains were made by students at Kenmore Elementary School, where the District saw a 10 to 15 percent boost in students who met or exceeded standards in English language arts at each grade level.

Campus leaders attribute the gains to an emphasis on literacy launched three years ago. Kenmore Elementary uses “Write from the Beginning and Beyond,” a writing program that employs “Thinking Maps” to help students visually organize thoughts as a way of developing critical responses and effective communication skills. Several other Baldwin Park campuses are looking to introduce the same strategies.

Additionally, as part of the ongoing improvement process, the District intends to use the data to develop plans for professional development, effective use of technology, strategic interventions, and corresponding funding in its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

Mendoza said a key element of the effort will be the District’s professional learning communities, a program that provides teachers with time to collaborate with each other as they examine student performance data.

He added that the District is driven by its new mission statement: “Ensure High Achievement for ALL Learners.”