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Rocklin schools shine on STAR tests

Rocklin Unified sees score increases on standardized exam
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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At Rocklin Unified School District, students, teachers and staff have cause for celebration. The district’s Standardized Testing and Reporting program, or STAR, test results are showing score increases. The California Department of Education released its 2009 STAR test results just in time for the start of the 2009-2010 school year. The test is required to be taken by students in grades 2-11 each year and is scored on a five-tiered scale: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic. Rocklin fourth-graders scored especially high this year, according to test results. A total of 82 percent of fourth-graders scored in the proficient and advanced levels in English. Only 79 percent of fourth-graders throughout Placer County scored in the proficient and advanced levels in English. RUSD Superintendent Kevin Brown said much of the district’s success is due in part to the staff’s hard work. “Overall, grade by grade and content area, we have once again seen continuous growth by our students,” he said. The percentage of fifth-graders within RUSD that scored proficient or advanced in English, jumped 12 percentage points from 2008’s 66 percent to 78 percent. Fifth-grade scores within proficient or advanced scores in math also increased from 71 percent to 77 percent from 2008 to 2009. Valley View Elementary had one of the highest averages among all grade levels of students that scored in the proficient or advanced categories. Up from 2008’s average of 78.42 percent, Valley View students averaged 85.9 percent for 2009 in English, with all grade level scores showing more than 80 percent of the students scored proficient or advanced in English as well. “We’re very happy with it,” said Valley View Elementary Principal Chuck Kilbourne. Kilbourne said the school’s high scores were a result of the dedication students and teachers show by attending class. “This school has a really good attendance rate,” he said. The strong attendance rae is not just among students, but also among teachers, showing the correlation between coming to school and learning. Kilbourne said plans are underway to congratulate students for jobs well done with extra recess time. “That hits them where it matters to them,” he said. Valley View’s curriculum, along with the other schools throughout the district, have strongly been aligned to follow district and state standards closely, Kilbourne said. “Rocklin schools really are all way above the norm,” he said. One-hundred percent of seventh-graders across the district scored either proficient or advanced in Algebra 1. But Brown said high and low levels of achievement have a correlation to the number of students tested — only 75 students took Algebra 1 in seventh-grade. On the other side of the spectrum, only 41 percent of ninth-graders scored proficient or advanced in Algebra — representing a group of students who have struggled with the subject. Rocklin Academy’s Turnstone campus placed high among Rocklin schools during this year’s testing. In math, 90.6 percent of Rocklin Academy students tested scored in the proficient or advanced categories. The English scores closely followed with 87.8 percent of students scoring in proficient or advanced categories. “I think what works for Rocklin Academy is a deep, enriched curriculum in core knowledge, excellent teaching and dedicated parents,” said David Patterson, Rocklin Academy executive director. But also part of the core knowledge curriculum is a strong focus on history and geography — subjects that are not tested through STAR tests. “Test scores are important, but they don’t tell the whole story,” he said. To see how a specific school scored, go to star.cde.ca.gov. Schools in brief: Rocklin high school students (grades 9-11) scoring proficient or advanced in English: Rocklin: 74.6 percent Whitney: 70.27 percent Victory: 27 percent (for 11th-graders only) Rocklin middle school students scoring proficient or advanced in English: Granite Oaks: 84.99 percent Spring View: 73.09 percent Source: star.cde.ca.gov