Giving Compass' Take:

• John Fensterwald reports that California students, excepting 11th graders, showed improvements on their math and reading scores in 2018. Gains were not evenly shared between ethnic, racial, and income groups. 

• How can funders help to identify what is driving these gains? What needs to change in order to achieve gains for disadvantaged groups? 

• Learn about black male suspensions in California

Scores on the state’s standardized tests rose slightly overall in 2018, increasing in all grades but 11th, the only high school grade to take the test, where a big drop countered the big growth in early elementary grades. In English language arts, about half of students overall met or exceeded the standards — the equivalent of proficiency — while 39 percent met or exceeded standards in math.

The statewide increase of 1.3 percentage points in English language arts and 1.1 percentage points in math followed a year of flat scores in 2017. Over four years, the scores have risen nearly 6 percentage points in both English language arts and math, but the biggest bump was in the second year — a common occurrence with standardized testing. If the disappointing 11th grade results were excluded from the statewide average, the statewide increase for  English language arts scores in 2018 would be 2.2 percentage points and 1.4 percentage points for math.

Gaps among ethnic, racial and income groups remain wide and, in some instances, have grown wider. Only 19.7 percent of African-American students are at or above standards in math, compared with 53.6 percent of whites and 74.6 percent of Asians. And their growth over four years, 3.7 percentage points, is about 1 percentage point less than whites and Asians.

However, the increase in Hispanic students’ scores — 5.7 percentage points over 4 years in math and 7.2 percentage points in English language arts — exceeded that of white and Asian students in both subjects. But the difference in scores — about 25 percentage points below whites and 37 points below Asians in English language arts and nearly the same difference in math — remains large.

Read the full article about math and reading score improvements by John Fensterwald at EdSource.