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Results from California’s first statewide science show Colusa County students, as a whole, tested below those in the rest of the state.
The first Next Generation Science Standards test was launched in the 2018-19 school year.
According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CASPP) results, released in February, only 14.17 percent of Colusa County’s students in fifth, eighth, and 10th grades met or exceeded the standards, compared to 29.93 percent of students statewide.
Students were tested on their understanding an ability to apply knowledge and skills associated with the core ideas, concepts, and practices in life sciences (ecosystems, biology, heredity), physical science (matter, motion and stability, energy), and earth and space sciences (Earth’s systems, placement, human activity), according to the California Department of Education.
Test results at Maxwell Unified, overall, were the highest in the county, with 26.31 percent of all students meeting or exceeding the standards, followed by 26.19 percent of Princeton students; 19.83 percent of Pierce Unified students; 16.20 percent of Colusa Unified students; and 6.52 percent of Williams students.
At the individual level, only 15.98 percent all Colusa County fifth-graders met or exceeded the standards, compared to 31.72 percent statewide.
Princeton Elementary fifth graders tested the highest in the county, with 26.19 percent meeting or exceeding the standard, followed by 21.63 percent at Maxwell Elementary School; 17.21 percent at Egling Middle School; 16.52 percent at Arbuckle Elementary, and 11.32 percent at Williams Upper Elementary.
Of eighth graders, only 14.87 percent of Colusa County students met or exceeded the standards, compared to 30.84 percent of eighth graders statewide.
At the individual level, 30.77 percent of eighth graders at Princeton Jr. High students met or exceeded the standards, followed by 28.57 percent at Maxwell Elementary School; 16 percent at Egling Middle School; 22.61 percent at Lloyd Johnson Jr. High; and 3.96 percent at Williams Upper Elementary.
At the high school level, 23.15 percent of students who took the test in California met or exceeded the standards. Colusa County students tested far below, with only 8.18 percent of 10th graders meeting or exceeding the standards.
At the individual level, 33.33 percent of 10th graders at Maxwell High School met or exceeded the standards, followed by 25 percent at Princeton High School; 16.28 percent at Colusa High School, and 3.30 percent at Williams High School. Data was not available for Pierce High School because fewer than 10 sophomores were tested.
The CAST is a computer-based test that consists of stand-alone questions as well as two or three performance tasks. Performance tasks require students to solve a series of related questions.
The purposes of the CAST are to assess student knowledge and skills in science and to foster science education at every grade level. In addition, the CAST encourages students to build the knowledge and skills needed for college and careers, according to the Department of Education.
According to the state, low-income, Latino, and black students struggled with the test the most (as they did with last spring’s English and Math tests).
Asian students statewide scored the highest in the new science test with 54 percent meeting or exceeding the standards, followed by 45 percent of multi-racial students; 44 percent of white students; 21 percent of Native American; 19 percent of Latino students; and 14 percent of black students, the CDE said.
School officials said the first year of standardized tests do not typically yield high results, and that most students took the science test on computer programs they have never used before. The state also cautioned parents about comparing school district to school district as higher scores can be skewed toward schools with smaller student populations. ■