Gilroy’s top learners have been recognized for a feat that eludes most students and everybody else—perfection.
In this case, perfect scores on statewide tests that assessed proficiency in math, science and English language arts.
Nearly 100 students were recognized, some in person, for outstanding achievement in English and math by the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees during three recent school board meetings.
And 13 more will get the same recognition at the board’s Feb. 16 meeting—some for a second time—for perfect science scores.
In all, about 110 students received the highest possible scores in one or more of the subjects.
They aced tests last spring called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.
Twenty-one earned the highest possible scores in both math and English and one earned top marks in math and science.
But six Brownell Middle School students, eighth graders at the time of testing, accomplished the highest achievement of all. They earned perfect scores in all three subjects.
They are Lucas Becker and Hayden Tankersley, now in ninth grade at T.J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA); Maya Regal, Marianna Bundros and Haley Monger, now ninth graders at Gilroy High School; and Jeret Zollinger, who’s in his first year at Christopher High School.
“While many Gilroy students did very well on these assessments, we were very proud to recognize all of the Gilroy Unified students that received the top scores on the CAASPP test for their grade level,” Superintendent Debbie Flores said.
Solorsano Middle School student Jasmine Antrim, who wants to be a marine biologist, was thrilled, but unsurprised with her results.
“It’s pretty gratifying,” she said. “You’ve been doing all this work the whole year and you know you got something out of it.”
And the perfect scores?
“This is going to sound stuck up, but, no … I mean, I think I’ve gotten perfect scores on all end-of-year tests since third grade. I think it’s because I read so much.”
Reading fantasy books is her favorite hobby.
David Eichenbaum, 14, felt the opposite. He was shocked to reach perfection.
“I just really didn’t think even with all the effort I put into it I would get a perfect score. I thought I would get a not perfect score!”
He took two days’ worth of periods to finish the tests in seventh grade and three days in sixth. Eichenbaum hopes to be a zoologist someday.
School board President Patricia Midtgaard underscored the need to acknowledge the achievements and what they say about a public school education.
“It is important for the Board of Education to recognize such students as they are performing at the highest level possible,” she said in an email.
“These students speak to the possibilities in public education: that success is attainable by those who take advantage of every learning opportunity and that there is a value in continually striving for academic excellence.
“We value students who are attaining at such high levels, and it gives us a great deal of pleasure to recognize and honor them at board meetings,” she said.
Trustee James Pace said, “I’m very proud of these amazing students, and the families and teachers that work so hard to support them. I wish I had had their skills when I was a student,” he said.
All of the top-scoring students have advanced a grade, and in some cases changed schools since testing last year.
The district’s three middle schools tallied the most perfect scores compared to elementary and high school totals.
Brownell Middle School had by far the largest number, with 27 students registering a total of 51 flawless tests.
At Ascencion Solorsano Middle School, 12 students tallied perfect scores on a total of 14 tests, with Jasmine Antrim earning top honors in both math and English.
Among GUSD’s eight elementary schools, Luigi Aprea had the most top scores, with 10 students producing 12 perfect scores. Two Aprea students, Li An Panfil and Dominic Vu, scored perfectly in English and math. They are now fourth graders.
Four of the district’s 15 schools had no perfect scores. They are Glen View, Antonio del Buono and Eliot elementary schools and Mt. Madonna Continuation High School.
And 11th grade test results had Gilroy and Christopher high schools each with six flawless student scores. GECA had five.
Other students who scored perfectly in two subjects were Brownell’s Paul Song, now at CHS, in math and English, and Kenneth Apte, now at GECA, in math and science.
Also earning the top scores in math and English were South Valley Middle School’s Justin Fajardo and Solorsano’s Andrew Tan, both now at GECA, and Mary Pickford, now at GHS; and GECA’s Arav Shah and Avi Shah.
GHS’s Eric Heiser, Skyler Hungerford and Elizabeth Pickford also had perfect scores in math and English.
At Brownell Middle School, Rhea Bains, Luke McCaw, Ethan Paulson, Athena Rutman, Halan Tran and Daniel Tran had top scores in math and English.
The CAASPP is given annually to students in grades three-eight and 11, in California and 23 other states to assess progress on the Common Core standards.
Now in its third year, the test requires students to use more critical thinking and technology skills than previous testing systems, according to education officials.
The CAASPPs began in the 2013-14 school year. It replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting system, or STAR, which started in 1998.
And while the state DOE tracked perfect scores during the pencil and paper STAR years, spokesman Peter Tira suggested Monday that it makes no sense to do so with the online CAASPP because “every student potentially takes a different test.”
Indeed, there is no way to know just how special is the perfect score achievement in the broader, statewide, context with CAASPP testing. California does not keep track of or tally perfect scores statewide because every student takes what in effect is a different test, and that makes comparisons impossible, according to Tira.
The new system uses a computer-generated, online “adaptive” test format that creates tests unique to each student and “based on how the student is doing,” Tira said.
Calling it “dynamic” testing, he described a format in which the questions unfold during testing based on student performance and adapts accordingly to each student. In STAR, all students took the same test.
Now, “They could be all different questions” and tests could even be “radically different” from each other, Tira said, adding, “That is why you can’t really look at across-the-board comparisons.”
The California Department of Education has CAASPP and STAR test results at its website, here: http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/.
For a list of all students who reached perfection, check www.gilroydispatch.com