The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) recently published results from student literacy and mathematics tests. The results showed a significant increase in literacy skills and a decrease in math skills.
The data showed third-grade students had improved their scores on the English Language Arts portion of the District Teachers College Reading Assessment (TCRWP). A third-grade BUSD teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous, suggested some reasons for the improvement. “I’m not surprised that the literacy level has risen because we’ve been using the TCRWP program for a while now, and the teachers have been trained,” she said.
The third-grade teacher also said that BUSD is to receive books that are more culturally relevant for kids, increasing connections between the students and the content they’re consuming.
The change in scores between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years varied even more for African American and Latino students.
Latino students’ scores raised nine percentage points from the previous school year. An even greater increase occurred for black/ African American students with a fifteen percentage point increase.
However, the scores for Latino and African American students remained below the overall average for all students.
The results also showed an eight percentage point increase for English Learners, with 33 percent reading at or above grade level in 2014-15 and 41 percent doing so in 2015-16. This change could be attributed, in part, to the new wave of LCAP funding that takes into account the number of English Learner students in the district. The anonymous third-grade teacher also stated that BUSD is now placing “more focus on providing consistent support for English Learners.”
The trend of lower math scores spans beyond BUSD. According to the California Department of Education, 44 percent of students met or exceeded the English language literacy standard and 33 percent met or exceeded the mathematics standard.
While this year’s test results are mixed, the BUSD’s 2016-2019 Local Control and Accountability Plan sets specific goals for improvements and strategies to achieve them.