Hundreds of students ace standardized test

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin students’ test scores continue to shine. More than 200 students in the Rocklin Unified School District earned perfect scores on a portion of their STAR tests in the 2009-10 school year. STAR tests, or Standardized Testing and Reporting, test students on the subjects of varying levels of math, sciences, U.S. and world histories and English-Language Arts, or ELA. Approximately 215 students in Rocklin earned perfect scores on subjects during last year’s tests. That number is up by 35 students from last years’ perfect scores. The number has steadily increased since the 2006-07 school year when only 83 students earned perfect scores. Linda Rooney, deputy superintendent of education services for Rocklin Unified, said she believes the increase is related to the school’s continued focus on instructional standards and enrichment activities. “We continue to focus on how we can meet the needs of the students at all levels,” Rooney said. The enrichment activities are district-wide, which challenge students and relate to the state standards, Rooney said. “As the students receive the enriched instruction, they’re benefiting,” she said. Enriched instruction focuses on the standards and goes beyond that. For example, in an English class, students may read a book and in addition to being able to summarize and understand the storyline, students may be asked to delve deeper into the author’s themes or connect it to another school subject, Rooney said. Of the students who earned perfect scores, 30 of them were Valley View Elementary students who received perfect scores in the California State Test in math. Valley View Principal Chuck Kilbourne said the high scores reflect a variety of grade levels within the school. Each of the students received a letter home congratulating them on their achievement, Kilbourne said. In addition to that, students were also sent to the principal’s office – to be applauded instead of disciplined. A common practice at Valley View includes students’ picture taken and placed into the principal’s book, with the student’s signature. The book recognizes mostly academic achievement among students and has been implemented since the school’s start. Kilbourne said it’s one of the ways Valley View encourages hard work. One of the reasons for the high math scores at Valley View relates to their accelerated math practice. In addition to typical math classes, students are also enrolled in accelerated math where they can work at their own pace. The also receive more individualized instruction. Kilbourne said the STAR test results reflect the teachers’ hard work as well as students’ and parent encouragement. “It’s really obvious to us that the students work really, really hard,” Kilbourne said. “And the parents support the work that their kiddos do.” At Granite Oaks Middle School, students excelled in science. Almost 50 eighth-graders last year earned perfect scores on the science portion of the STAR test. In William Braile’s science class last year, 99 percent of his students earned advanced scores on the test and 33 students in his class earned perfect scores, he said. The test covers science concepts such as motion and forces, chemical reactions and astronomy at the eighth-grade level. Part of the success he said stems from the academy system implemented at Granite Oaks. The system allows teachers to quickly identify students who are struggling and need intervention because students work with core teachers every day. “The academy system is very student oriented, student friendly,” Braile said. Braile said he also includes many hands-on experiments in this class through lab once or twice a week. “I believe that’s what science is all about, science is doing,” Braile said. “What’s important is to teach the concepts, to teach the material with the state standards in mind … if you teach the concepts, the test kind of takes care of itself.”