California students see improvements in test scores


Students in California are making steady progress overall. Even the subgroups, African Americans, Latinos and low income kids, saw their scores inch up a bit. But according to the superintendent of schools, there is room for improvement.

In 2003, 35 percent of students were proficient in English language arts. That number has gone up to 54 percent. In math, 35 percent were proficient eight years ago, rising to 50 percent today.

"Instead of a press conference on more budget cuts and what can't be done because of those cuts, we're here to emphasize the positive about what is going on," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

So why did the numbers increase despite these cuts to education?

"It could be that everyone is working harder with less, it could be that there is more community empowerment or engagement in the process, it could be that there is the use of data," Education Trust-West spokesperson Valerie Cuevas said.

That data is being collected to identify the areas each kid needs to work on.

And in San Francisco's case, over the past two years, the district has put more pressure on parents to keep kids in school.

"I think a lot of our test scores improved because we are improving attendance in the district and the more we can do that and parents need to help," San Francisco Superintendent Carlos Garcia said.

The two largest counties in the Bay Area outperformed the state numbers.

In Santa Clara County, 65 percent of students were proficient in English language arts, compared to 54 percent statewide. In math, 71 percent of students were proficient, compared to the state's 50 percent.

San Francisco also did better than the state, with 57 percent proficient in English language arts and 66 percent in math.

Still, most education advocates were not impressed with the numbers.

"But on the flip side it's still half of our kids who aren't proficient at the levels we need them to be," Cuevas said.

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