FONTANA – An increasing number of Fontana Unified School District students met or exceeded standards on California’s Smarter Balanced tests for English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, according to District officials and data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education.

The data from the second-year, computer-based tests – administered to students in grades three through eight, and grade 11 – show progress in student performance and achievement levels on the more rigorous California Standards, which are in their third year of implementation and challenge students to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom to real-world problems.

The 2016 state test scores show that FUSD students improved their mathematics and English language arts/literacy performance over last year, with students meeting or exceeding state standards rising to 33 from 28 percent in ELA and to 19 percent from 17 percent in mathematics.

“We are seeing growth in student achievement levels across the board and are incredibly proud of the hard work our teachers and staff have put forward to ensure our students are a receiving a high-quality education that will transfer to the real world,” Fontana Unified Board President Lorena Corona said. “While we know there are areas in which we can improve, our District is confident that the positive gains this year are a reflection of what’s to come.”

The ELA and math tests are the centerpiece of the new California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). The program, which includes science tests and alternative assessments for students with cognitive disabilities or learning difficulties, replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system in place from 1998 to 2013.

As a result, FUSD has risen to the challenge of educating students to meet the state’s more rigorous demands. For instance, the District has bolstered professional development training, collaboration and planning time for implementation of the California Standards and increased classroom technology while supporting English learners. The District has also continued to provide various opportunities to engage, equip and empower parents to advocate for the academic success of their children.

“These test results are direct evidence of Fontana Unified’s commitment to continue making progress and implementing an instructional vision that will foster college and career readiness among all our students,” said Dr. Joshua Lightle, FUSD’s interim associate superintendent for teaching and learning.

Notable gains were made among English learners. In 2015, 46 percent of English learners who were reclassified as fluent-English-proficient met or exceeded English language arts/literacy standards. In 2016, that number rose to 51 percent.

The District will use the test results to explore ways to continue fostering academic growth and achievement.

“We know that there is much to refine and work on as we continue analyzing these scores and finding new and innovative ways to increase student achievement and college and career readiness as our kids continue on their educational paths,” FUSD Co-Interim Superintendent Randal Bassett said. “We are steadfastly committed to improving teaching and learning for every child, every day and in every classroom.”