Gilroy Schools Improving, but Still Low

Debbie Flores, GUSD Superintendant

In the newest state test results, Gilroy schools showed improvement over last year and held their own or slightly exceeded state scores, but in every grade and category scored below other Santa Clara County schools.

And a majority scored below minimum state standards, 52 percent in English language arts and 60 percent in math. For Hispanics, who make up roughly 80 percent of all district students, it was 59 percent and 69 percent, respectively—the so-called achievement gap educators statewide have tried to close.

In five of the seven grades tested, more than 50 percent of Gilroy students on average did not meet California’s minimum standards in English and math.

Statewide, only in third grade math, and in seventh, eighth and 11th grade English did 50 percent or slightly more exceed state standards, according to results released Aug. 24 by state Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson and the California Department of Education.

The Gilroy Unified School District, in a press release issued Monday, put a positive spin on the results and acknowledged its scores lag behind those of other Santa Clara County districts while holding up well against state averages.

“We’re happy to see that our students have matched the overall state performance in [English] and that we continue to do better than the state average in math,” said district Superintendent Debbie Flores in the press release.

“When considering our scores in tandem with our county, we’re clear there is still work to do as Santa Clara County traditionally outperforms most of the state. But we’re seeing our district do quite well in comparison to other counties near us,” she added. The other counties were not identified in the press release.

Gilroy students were on par with other California students in achieving the state’s goal of meeting or exceeding state standards, according the GUSD press release.

“Overall 49 percent of GUSD students in English Language Arts and 40 percent of students in math met this goal,” according to the release.

GUSD planned to send student scores to parents this week

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, CAASPP, is in its second year of use. It replaced the long-used STAR test and is based on the state’s Common Core Standards.

In a press release, the state Department of Education said California students had made “significant progress” compared to last year’s results, adding that “nearly half” met or exceeded English standards and nearly 40 percent did so in math.

Torlakson expanded on the positive theme in the press release and noted improvement is needed.

“The higher test scores show that the dedication, hard work, and patience of California’s teachers, parents, school employees, and administrators are paying off.

“Of course there’s more work to do, but our system has momentum. I am confident that business, political and community leaders will join parents and educators to help continue supporting increased standards and resources for schools,” he said.

More than 3.2 million students in grades three through eight and 11 took the CAASPP test, according to the Department of Education.

All GUSD, Santa Clara County and California CAASPP scores can be found at the DOE website at this link:

Gilroy’s charter school, Gilroy Prep, part of the Navigator schools group, outperformed by far all of GUSD’s regular public school classes. Of the four GPS grades tested, three through six, an average of 82 percent of students in English and 67 percent in math met or exceeded state standards. For Hispanics, 78 percent in English and 67 percent in math did so.

Kevin Sved, Navigator Schools CEO, said in a release issued Aug. 24, “The 2016 results prove the success [last year] was not a one-time thing but, instead, a reflection of the multi-faceted approach Navigator has been employing since welcoming our first students in 2011.”  

Navigator Chief Academic Officer James Dent said, “Learning we exceeded our 2015 numbers is both affirming and inspiring. We founded Navigator Schools to provide an alternative to our local underserved families and watching our dream come to reality is an incredible feeling.”

At Gilroy’s eight other elementary schools, the lowest performing in English were Glen View, El Roble, Eliot and Antonio Del Buono, with 71, 67, 67 and 66 percent, respectively, of all third, fourth and fifth grade students combined scoring below state standards. For Hispanic students at those schools, the percentages were 75, 70, 76 and 66 scoring below.

Math results for those same grades ranged from 71 and 70 percent below state minimums at Antonio Del Buono and Glen View, to 69 percent at Eliot and El Roble.

Top performing elementary schools in English were Luigi Aprea and Rod Kelley, where 60 and 55 percent of students, respectively, met or exceeded state standards.

In math, those same schools were on top with 56 and 55 percent meeting or bettering state standards.

Scores for Hispanics districtwide were below those of all students—59 percent of Hispanics compared to 52 percent of all students scored below state standards in English language arts. The numbers were 69 percent vs. 60 percent in math.

There were promising results, too. In grades three through seven, for example, although in all but one result more than half of students scored below state standards, there was some improvement over last year.

The number of students meeting or exceeding state standards edged upwards when compared to those same classes’ performances the year before in both subjects. The only exceptions were fourth and fifth grade math results, which dipped.

At Brownell Middle School, the number of students who met or exceeded California’s standards in English climbed by 13 points to 61 percent and math was up six points.

At South Valley Middle School, English scores at or above state standards were up eight points, to 41 percent, while the math percentage was up seven points.

English scores were up by five percentage points at Solorsano Middle School.

At the high school level, the CAASPP tests 11th-graders. As at the other grade levels, students did better in English than math and a majority had good results in the former, exceeding state averages.

At Christopher High School, 57 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in English, while at Gilroy High School the number was 53 percent. The state average was 49 percent.

Math performances were lagging. At CHS, 75 percent of 11th-graders did not meet state standards, while at GHS 67 percent fell below. Statewide, 68 percent of 11th grade students scored below state math standards.

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