2011 Test Scores: How Did Your Kid's School Do?

The Department of Education released its 2011 California Standards Tests (CSTs) scores on Aug. 15. The results are here.

The California Standards Tests (CSTs) test scores released by the state on Monday show that students at the as a whole did not improve their English and Language Arts scores from 2010, but did improve on 2010 Math scores by one percentage point.

A report showing performance at each PUSD school, including overall proficiency and one-year and five-year performance changes, can be viewed at right.

Though the district only showed minimal improvement from 2010 to 2011, district officials touted a five-year-improvement in math of 10 percentage points and 11 percentage points in English.

Officials also pointed out an eight point English and seven point Math improvement at John Muir High School over five years as proof that the school is showing significant progress.

For Altadena schools, the results were mixed, with big gains for in both categories, and a large overall math score increase for most Altadena schools.  English results were not as good, with no school beating the district average for percent of students proficient or above proficient in English scores.

Below are a list of some of the top perfomers district-wide and how they compare to the top performers in Altadena.  The full results can be viewed at right.


Here are the top schools from 2010 to 2011, in English.  The district average was 50 percent, meaning no Altadena school beat the average district performance.

PUSD Schools Percent At or Above Proficient
Altadena Schools Percent At or Above Proficient Sierra Madre Elementary 79 48 Don Benito Fundamental 75
46 Roosevelt 69 40 Hamilton 68 40 Norma Coombs 67 36

Here are the most improved schools from 2010 to 2011, in English.  For Altadena schools, only Altadena and Loma Alta elementary schools showed improvement - all others either dropped or stayed even from last year.  The district as a whole matched its 2010 performance in 2011, neither improving nor taking a step backwards.

PUSD School Percent Points Improvement, One-Year
Altadena Schools Percent Points Improvement, One-Year Roosevelt 14 Altadena Elementary 5 Washington Middle 8 Loma Alta 5 Willard 6

Marshall Fundamental 6

Altadena Elementary 5

This table shows the improvment of English test scores over five years. The average district school improved by 11 percentage points over that time. Altadena Elementary and Eliot were the two schools to beat the average, and they did it handily.

PUSD Schools Percent Points Improvement, 5-Year Altadena Schools Percent Points Improvement, 5-Year Roosevelt 42 Altadena Elementary 22 Altadena Elementary 22 Eliot 19 Webster 20 6 Eliot 19 Franklin 5 Field 17 Burbank 4


For the math side of the tests, all five Altadena elementary schools surpassed the average district score of 46 percent of students at or above proficiency level. 

PUSD Schools
Percent At or Above Proficient Altadena Schools Percent At or Above Proficient Sierra Madre 83 Altadena 70 Don Benito 80 Burbank 61 Hamilton 80 Franklin 57 Roosevelt 78 Loma Alta 51 Webster 78 Jackson 50

Altadena schools really dominated in improving math scores from 2010 to 2011 as four of the top five improving schools were in Altadena.  The district as a whole improved by one percentage point from last year.

PUSD Schools Percent Points Improvement, One-Year Altadena Schools Percent Points Improvement, One-Year Loma Alta 16 Loma Alta 16 Altadena 15 Altadena 15 Field 8 Eliot 8 Eliot 8 Burbank 7 Burbank 7 Jackson 1

Over the last five years, Altadena and Loma Alta elementary schools both surpassed the 10 percentage point improvement that the district as a whole has seen.

PUSD Schools Percentage Points Improvement, Five-Year Altadena Schools Percentage Points Improvement, Five-Year Altadena Elementary 35 Altadena Elementary 35 Roosevelt 25 Loma Alta 13 Webster 23 Burbank 9 Blair 19 Eliot 6 Longfellow 18 Jackson 4

Charter School Reports:

Odyssey Charter School

Aveson Charter School

Pasadena Rosebud Academy

navigio August 18, 2011 at 06:09 AM
..cont'd But the worst part is that reactions make it clear people are just looking for opportunity to bash public schools. There are a lot of successes in these numbers, but no one would bother mentioning them. And there were no demographics mentioned. None. How is it even possible to gauge the meaning of these numbers without understanding something about the school environment? Does it matter that 35% of our elementary white kids go to one school? Does anyone think there is a correlation between that and their test scores, or that 12 of our elementary schools meet or beat that 'best school' last year on the similar schools ranking, ie when 'corrected' for demographics? Oh, and none of those was a charter school. Should we care about that? Does it matter than some of our elementary grades had nearly 100% proficiency in a few cases, or does the school system suck regardless? And what about the fact that we now have nearly a thousand kids in our charter schools? That number was just over a hundred only 4 years ago. cont'd..
navigio August 18, 2011 at 06:09 AM
..cont'd And what about those charter schools? One is 50% white but still scored 75 points worse (API) last year than the 'best' public elementary. Are the teachers that good at teaching to the test at Sierra Madre? Or is something else maybe going on? And what of this claim that our public schools cant even properly teach to the test? Aveson's overall 5th grade math proficiency is 36% (you dont even want to know what that means for subgroups). Am I supposed to accept that at least they had a good excuse while I am not allowed to do that for anyone else? You're right that I am frustrated. I think someone described NCLB as a slow-motion train wreck. I feel like the whole school 'reform' movement is the same thing. We keep doing all these things in the name of reform but all we're doing is slowly destroying public education. And we're doing it with the blessing (and even urging) of the everyday person on the street. Granted, there are many people who dont even believe we should have public education, but c'mon, they are the fringe, right? Anyway, I apologize for blowing up. I dont like testing, but understand that people put stock in it so we have to have the discussions in those terms. The least we could do is try to understand the situation somewhat before kicking people who are already down for merely the sake of exercise. imho, of course.. :-)
navigio August 18, 2011 at 06:16 AM
btw, kudos for Dan for putting this data out there to try to educate people and foster discussion. I appreciate those efforts and believe they will help give our communities a better understanding of the issues.
Leslie Aitken August 18, 2011 at 06:26 PM
Wow navigo.....since when is 4 sentences a rant? I have had school aged children for 26 years. I have served on every possible school committee, gone to countless "reform" meetings, outlasted district superintendents, principals and teachers. The PUSD and California education system is broken, and has been for a long time. CA public school education ranks 47th out of 50 states. Very sad and unacceptable.
navigio August 19, 2011 at 06:06 AM
Hi Leslie. I didnt mean this post, but that probably wasnt fair either. CA is also ranked last or near last on some measures of funding, and student to teacher, librarian, counselor and administrator ratios. Somehow I might imagine those facts might be related. Normally I'd try to defend these scores by pointing out actual advances in the face of barriers (changing demographics, consolidation, layoffs, class size, grade-leveling, budget cuts, etc), but its clear people dont find those relevant. The one thing I do think is useful to discuss is your mention of 'unacceptable'. That obviously implies a potential change that would improve the situation. Im not sure whether you saw the front page of the latimes this morning, but its quite possible 'reform' efforts are actually making things worse. Depending on how much stock one puts into test scores, we seem to be seeing something similar in our district. Obviously its much more difficult to blame that situation on the district or even the state education system. Just as it is to explain how districts like la canada and san marino (and many others) are able to succeed 'in spite of' the same district rules and state system (this even applies to some schools within our own district). Clearly its something more than that, right?
True Freedom August 19, 2011 at 07:04 PM
@Nav: you mention that 35% of the district's white kids go to a particular elementary, and that a charter with 50% white kids scored 75 pts lower that the best elementary... what do you think is going on here?
mister altadena August 19, 2011 at 09:59 PM
@TF's noon comment: -- I may be wrong but the 35% reference may be Sierra Madre elementary/middle schools. If Sierra Madre residents are sending their kids to their local school, and SM is less "diverse" than Altadena, this would explain the higher % of caucasian at that school. Their 09-10 enrollment was 980. The % caucasian enrollment was 50% in that yr. - Gotta believe Aveson is the charter w/ 50% caucasian and scores of 75 pts below. Could be Aveson's de-emphasis on testing, no assigned homework and their overall style of teaching/learning. Just means Aveson's scores on state tests aren't super high. Parents just have to determine how much emphasis to place on test scores.
navigio August 20, 2011 at 01:33 AM
yo @tf, thanks for asking, and yeah, everything mister A says is surely part of it. first off, the 35% number was specifically for elementary enrollment. I should have said that if I did not. A while back there was a preso at a board meeting that pointed out that the achievement gap was actually going up (this was last year so had nothing to do with the numbers we got in this story). After I saw that I tried to figure out why that was. The district gave another preso on demographics sometime last year and I analyzed the enrollment patterns. What I found was kind of shocking. For all of PUSD, enrollment decreased 8.42% from 06-07 to 09-10, but enrollment for whites decreased by 17.65% in our elementary schools (21.92% in the whole district) during that same time. ie whites are leaving the district at a faster pace than the overall decline, and at a higher rate in upper grades, not surprisingly. :-P But there were increases in white enrollment in 3 elementary schools during that same timeframe. Every other elementary school declined in white enrollment, and some very significantly. cont'd..
navigio August 20, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Almost half of elementary schools had a white enrollment decrease of over 30% during those same years (13 had a decrease of more than 20% and only 2 had a decrease of less than 10%). There were increases in white enrollment at 3 schools (field, willard and SM), but they were small in actual numbers (10, 19 and 21). As it relates to achievement gap, the interesting thing was that 80% of the increase in white enrollment happened at two of the best performing schools in the district. And all of the decline was all in poorer performing schools. If you imagine that the diversity of a school contributes to better scores for a given student, that fact alone might explain why the achievement gap was rising. Personally, I think whats happening with Aveson is quite complicated. As with any school put into turmoil, students will suffer as a result. I think consolidation schools suffered from that process and I'm sure even the elementary portion of Aveson was impacted by everything that went on with the lawsuit and subsequent moving fiasco. cont'd..
navigio August 20, 2011 at 01:34 AM
When the district does not stand behind the future of a school, that can be a real burden, even for a relatively independent charter school. There are parents who left some of the public schools that were spared during consolidation because they cant take that uncertain future anymore. That obviously takes its toll on a school. But to be honest, I think there is more than that going on with Aveson. Even though I'm probably not qualified to speak to it, my own opinion is that the needs of the students who are attending may have changed somewhat in recent years, and I think this has put different pressures on the classroom environment. I dont know how much that has caused what has happened, but I do think its contributed something. Actively avoiding teaching to the test may be part of it, but Im not sure that can fully explain whats happened given how much those scores have changed in the past few years. I guess in theory, when it opened, it took in all public school kids, who of course had been taking tests (and in theory taught to them, though I hate that term). Maybe the drop is the cumulative impact of many years of teaching differently. cont'd..
navigio August 20, 2011 at 01:35 AM
As mr A points out, parents need to decide how important tests scores are, though even as a charter, you cant ignore them altogether or you will not get your charter renewed. It would be interesting to analyze Aveson's demographic changes. I have not done that. Note that Odyssey has changed significantly in demographics since opening, though I know not intentionally. And their scores have not had the same impact. My understanding is they dont focus on testing either, but again, someone feel free to correct me. Sorry for typing so much. I know it annoys most people. But I think tf asked an important question.
mister altadena August 20, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Just for fun.... 1. here are some enrollment stats by ethnicity for Aveson: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/EthnicGrade.aspx?cType=ALL&cGender=B&cYear=2010-11&Level=School&cSelect=Aveson%20School%20of%20Leaders--1964881-0113472&cChoice=SchEnrAll 2. API for Aveson, by ethnicity http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Acnt2011/2010BaseSch.aspx?allcds=19648810113472 3. Odyssey enrollment by ethnicity: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/EthnicGrade.aspx?cType=ALL&cGender=B&cYear=2010-11&Level=School&cSelect=ODYSSEY^CHARTER--LOS^ANGELES^COU--1910199-6116883&cChoice=SchEnrAll 4. API for Odyssey by ethnicity http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Acnt2011/2010BaseSch.aspx?allcds=19101996116883 Theories?
mary August 20, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Have any parents received their children's CST scores yet? I have had trouble navigating the CDE website, but am curious about a few things. How did the Sierra Madre special education students fare on the CST......those that did not take the modified version? I also wonder if the numbers of special education identified students at Sierra Madre mirror the numbers at other schools in the district, anyone have any ideas?
navigio August 20, 2011 at 09:06 PM
sped kids at sm made up between about 5% and 9% of enrollment for most grades. There were not enough kids to have scores reported on the CDE site. The percentage of enrollment seemed to be very similar to what the district had overall. Some individual schools had more, some had less. SM's api for sped was 699 last year compared to 562 for the district's average. However, sped can mean very different things in different places so these comparisons may not mean much. :-)
navigio August 20, 2011 at 09:07 PM
oh, and the district mentioned on wednesday that it had received about 14000 STAR reports the day before or just recently and was furiously working to mail them out. I expect that means next week.
navigio August 20, 2011 at 09:12 PM
and couple caveats on the percentages. i got those off the star reports, so it doesnt include k and 1st (lower grades are usually higher rates). I also expect the average number for the district is much higher than what is reported on the star page because that probably excludes the district's dedicated special ed schools, but you can still compare it with other traditional schools.
navigio August 20, 2011 at 09:42 PM
interesting stuff. its probably better to look at these things over time. If you do that you will notice a couple similarities and a couple differences between the two schools. I looked at that for the past 4 years. both grew at about the same rate overall and are about the same size (though odyssey is a k-8 while aveson k-5, so odyssey has fewer kids per grade. in theory that can mean some difference in the classroom, but i dont know). as far as differences go, aveson's subgroups have stayed relatively constant as a percentage of total enrollment, with whites about 50%, and african am and hispanic hovering around 20%. In contrast, odyssey's black subgroup has declined significantly (from over 30% to under 20%) and the hispanic and white growth looks like a mirror image of that (from 12% to about 32% for hisp, and 22% to 32% for whites). Note that both these schools had a number of people decline to state or as multiple races which makes these numbers slightly more fuzzy. aveson did not have enough non-white subgroups to have reported scores, but 3 years ago avesons api was about 100 higher than odyssey's, odyssey is 5 over aveson in last year's. The white API for both schools is about the same, but aveson's minority and sped api is much worse. interestingly, aveson's white API has declined. Part of odyssey's api increase is surely simply as a result of demographic shift, but how much cant be said without looking at star data (i didnt have time for that). maybe more later
Adam August 22, 2011 at 07:06 AM
Can I just say to anyone who complains about PUSD test performance --- whether you realize it or not, what you are complaining about is the achievement gap. PUSD test scores, by and large, represent traditionally underperforming groups. Most of the schools do not have a large enough population of the traditionally higher-performing groups to have a significant effect on these overall average test results. So if you mean to complain about african american and hispanic test scores, by all means, carry on.
Adam August 22, 2011 at 07:09 AM
But you should keep in mind that PUSD does very well with these demographics compared to other districts in california. 14 of the 20 elementary schools (based on the 2010 base API results, which include loma alta and burbank) have API scores above the state median, compared with schools with similar demographics. Some are well above median (8 are in the top 20%). Of course, there is room for improvement, so as I said, complain away. But please, once you get that out of your system, maybe you can start talking about positive ways to fix the achievement gap.
Adam August 22, 2011 at 07:12 AM
Now for those who complain about test scores to say, "I would never subject my wunderkind to a school that tolerates that atrocious level of academic achievement," let me point out that those overall average test results do NOT indicate how YOUR typically-developing, native-english-speaking, middle(+)-class child of involved, educated parents will perform. I also went to the data advance. I only had time to look at my own kids' school's API predictions (I am going to ask my principal for a copy of the CD they gave out), but I saw a very interesting statistic. The publicly-available test results (from the state DOE) do not include statistically insignificant subgroup results, but the district apparently calculates these and makes them available to the schools. (Of course, the schools have access to the student-level raw data, but I imagine they generally lack the expertise and motivation to do these analyses). Anyway, the district had actually calculated the score I think you are all looking for, and as I have been saying for a long time, dating back to the topix boards, IT IS COMPLETELY MOOT.
Adam August 22, 2011 at 07:17 AM
The score I am talking about was for white students with no disabilities. It didn't specify non-socioeconomically-disadvantaged, but it doesn't matter. So if you will allow me to substitute "white, non-disabled" for "typically-developing, native-english-speaking, middle(+)-class children of involved, educated parents" (of all races), then you have nothing to worry about. For my kids' school, which btw is not among those few generally regarded as the top-performing PUSD schools, the white, non-disabled API score is estimated to be a little over 1000. Now the maximum possible API is supposed to be 1000, so clearly there is some voodoo in the formula or something, and this was a prediction based on not-quite-complete results from the state testing service, and we are dealing with small-number statistics. Nevertheless, I think this emphatically makes the point that non-disadvantaged students are doing perfectly fine in PUSD. The CST does not adequately test these students. If you want to use test scores to determine how YOUR child will do or to compare PUSD with neighboring districts, all I can say is DON'T.
yeahian August 22, 2011 at 08:17 AM
blah blah blah. Personally I want my kid surrounded by other smart kids not idiots. hence no public school which is a expensive shame.
Lisa Maiorana August 22, 2011 at 05:05 PM
and why didn't the child do well on his/her test scores, could it be because the class sizes are so large that they have absolutely no one-on-one interaction? Could it be that when you send your son or daughter to private school that's unfortunately the ONLY chance they have in this city? Nobody wants to admit it, but sadly, it's true.
Carol Potter August 22, 2011 at 06:02 PM
My experience as a PUSD (middle school) teacher: Most students are placed in core classes with students with similar abilities. The so-called higher classes tend to perform well, the lower performing classes are another case. I've taught honors classes with 38 students and can tell you that they'll outperform a class of 24 remedial students any day. When my two children went to Washington Middle School they were placed with the higher perforning students for core subjects. I doubt they would have done as well if that hadn't been the case. Most private schools have entrance exams and can pick and choose who gets in, depending on their standards. That tends to level the playing field, so to speak. You can't do that in public schools, so you really can't compare the two.
navigio August 22, 2011 at 07:40 PM
its not even close to the only chance they have but convincing oneself of that surely makes the decision much easier. What no one wants to admit is that people are only willing to pay for smaller class sizes if its for their own kid. that it is considered a waste of money by those paying for it to spend on poor people's kids. the tragic irony is that small class sizes probably are most useful for the lowest-performing kids (and they can get you a lot in some of those cases), but as public school performance data appears to drop (mostly due to demographic shift), the perception that its 'the district's' fault leads to increased pressure to reduce 'wasting money' on those kids or on that district, which actively creates an environment that is worse for those kids. And so the cycle continues.. I know I've mentioned this before, but I cant say it enough. The state of CA brought into court (williams v ca) a defense against discriminatory spending that poor and minority kids were doomed to fail, so spending even the same money on them as on affluent and performing races was a waste of money. I guess no one can stop people from deciding to segregate themselves away from the dregs of society, but the least we can do is give public education the tools it needs to succeed, that is, of course, if we really care about it succeeding (unfortunately I think more people do not than one might imagine).
navigio August 22, 2011 at 08:04 PM
btw, rereading that first sentence and it sounds pretty rude. that was not my intent. it is very easy for parents to fret about decisions they make for their children. and its very easy for fear to crop up in that context. imho, fear is never a good basis for decision-making. its great for reactionary behavior, but not so great for real decision-making. Thats not to say that a real, thought-out decision cant come to the same conclusion (in fact, I expect @tf is already typing out a response to my previous post much along those lines.. ;-) ), but its not a given. One of the ironies with the reform movements is there is this assumption that everything is broken, but the assumption is, generally speaking, not based on assessment of the actual system, rather on either anecdotal experience or on arguments that seem to sound good and make sense but are not necessarily based in reality. We forget that the current system exists as a process of many, many, many years of dynamics. To render it asunder and assume we can simply replace it with something that works in a matter of weeks or months seems surprising. Sometimes I wonder whether we as a country need to have a discussion about the concept of equal protection as it applies to education. Obviously that was not always a given, and was only changed by court decisions. But privatizing education is essentially a way around that and, I believe, part of an admission that unequal access is fine.
Lisa Maiorana August 22, 2011 at 09:58 PM
@ Navagio, funny how I also pay taxes for the PUBLIC schools as well as tuition for my daughter for private school so I'd be careful when you say I'm not paying for the public school children as well. If the public schools decide to squander their money then so be it, but I still pay my taxes every year. Unfortunately, I don't have the means to start my own school to help all the children of the world, if I did, I certainly would ;)
navigio August 22, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Hi Lisa, actually I was saying the opposite. Sorry if I was not clear enough. The affluent absolutely pay for public education, and In fact, its probably quite likely that public schools are funded primarily by the affluent (they generally pay the most in absolute taxes of course, income, real estate and otherwise), however, since they are the ones who are least likely to attend public schools there is an incentive for them to minimize that burden. I've always found that kind of ironic but thats what happens in a society with high income disparity. It seems natural they'd find it unfair and in fact it is my belief that is why some push vouchers because it essentially does away with that 'unfairness' by 'subsidizing away' the tax burden for those already in private school, at least partially. btw, allow me to suggest that it might not be the public schools that are squandering away the money. we have a law in this state that allows public employees to join unions. that costs money. we have laws in this state that require equal access to education, REGARDLESS of your mental or language or residence status. that costs money. We have laws in this country that require accountabilty and data reporting to the umpteenth degree. Of course thats because we want to make sure we're using public money effectively, but that all costs a LOT of money. All of these things can be undone by the voting public. The question is of course whether we'd really be willing to do that.. :-)
Leslie Aitken August 22, 2011 at 10:52 PM
This certainly has been a busy thread! I just got done registering my daughter at a public high school. I can't afford private and the charter school she was in wasn't offering enough options. So here we go again! Her counselor was young, friendly, and enthusiastic and did a great job getting her signed up. The issue at hand isn't really testing or test scores. A lot of it is that CA has so lost its way that most don't realize HOW sad the educational options offered really are. After my daughter got her English, math, science and language, we looked for electives. We couldn't find any academic electives: No psychology, sociology, marine biology, English Literature, Creative Writing, let alone Shakespeare!! That is a huge difference between what we have here and what IS available in Ohio. I don't blame any one school, it is the state of education in our State. My folks live in a house valued 1/4 of mine and pay 3 times the property tax. Therein lies the problem. We have Prop 13, Ohio and many other states have schools with 10 times the options and educational opportunities -- Marine Biology being one that my nephew took last year (which included a spring break trip to the Bahamas). We in CA -- our more accurately our children -- get what we pay for....or not. Kinda short sighted Mr. Jarvis!
navigio August 22, 2011 at 11:42 PM
well, you know i share your frustration leslie... not that that helps any.. :-P Do you know whether these electives were cut recently or whether they havent existed for a while? I know some elective teachers were cut as a result of budget cuts.. not sure the impact of that on the courses offered.


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