CVESD Students Outperform Their Peers in County and State—Again!

The state Department of Education released testing results on Wednesday, and for the second consecutive year students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District outperformed the state and county averages of their peers in English Language Arts and mathematics.

California updated its standards and built matching assessments to shift student learning toward more complex skills. In just the second year of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), District students achieved across-the-board gains on tests designed to gauge preparation for college and career.

Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., said the results are attributable to years of focus on teaching practices. “We had a solid foundation in instructional delivery, coupled with a system-wide belief that our students could rise to the challenge of the new standards,” Dr. Escobedo said. “Our classroom teachers were prepared to teach at the deeper levels that the new standards required. Our teachers are amazing, and they are supported by parents who understand that learning is an around-the-clock proposition. Learning does not end when students leave the schoolhouse doors.”

Marshall IMG_7565Overall, 62% of District students in grades 3-6 met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, which reflects 7% growth over the prior year. In math, which has been particularly challenging for students under the new standards, 49% of District students met or exceeded standards, compared to 44% at the county level. This reflects 6% growth for CVESD over the prior year. A 3-5% increase or decrease is considered statistically significant.

The District results were significantly helped by the services and strategies put into place through its Local Control and Accountability Plan. For example, the Board of Education invested $5 million annually for three years to employ additional teachers with a focus on Visual and Performing Arts, which in turn provided classroom teachers with release time for collaboration. That time together was important for classroom teachers to strategically plan lessons and enhance instruction, officials said.

Some schools made dramatic gains. For example, Valley Vista Elementary posted the District’s highest year-over-year increase in English Language Arts, with growth of 15.5%. Overall, at Valley Vista, 51.8% of students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts. Valley Vista’s increase narrowly edged out Juarez-Lincoln Elementary, where growth in English Language Arts reached 14.7%.

Valley Vista Principal Carmen Emery, Ed.D., points to the team effort of her entire learning community. “We have a strong team leading key professional development and structured collaboration for our teachers.  I am so proud of our continued work on developing a school-wide growth mindset,” Dr. Emery said. “Our students are increasingly unafraid to take risks and challenges in their learning. As their confidence soars, so does their achievement.”

The goal of the state’s assessment system is to improve and ensure high quality teaching and learning. However, assessing a student’s performance requires looking at a variety of measures.

Dr. Escobedo said he was proud of the growth at Valley Vista and Juarez-Lincoln. “These are tremendous gains, and reflect the hard work of students, staff and school leaders. This kind of growth does not happen by accident. It took a lot of effort on the part of many,” Dr. Escobedo said.

State officials noted that it takes time to move from a fill-in-the-bubble approach most parents recall to the modern, online testing system today’s students utilize. The online assessments provide results quickly, and include optional interim tests and a digital library of resources to use throughout the year.2016 Baja Delegation _6606

While the District’s English Learner students also experienced significant year-over-year growth, there is still much work to be done to close achievement gaps compared with other student groups, officials said. In English Language Arts, 30% of CVESD’s English Learners met or exceeded standards. The District gains dwarf the state’s average of 13% and the county average of 18% of English Learners who met or exceeded standards in English. In math, 23% of CVESD students met or exceeded standards, compared with 12% at the state and 15% at the county. Viewed differently, that means 87% of the state’s English Learners did not meet state standards in English, and 88% did not meet state standards in math.

This is deeply concerning to Emma Sanchez, the District’s Executive Director for Language Development and Instruction. “It would be easy to celebrate the fact that we are doing better than most districts in the county and state,” Sanchez said. “But, these results are alarming. We all have a moral responsibility to address this with a sense of urgency. Identifying and acknowledging our EL students is critical in targeting their linguistic and academic needs. We must ensure English Learners have access to a positive and culturally responsive learning environment; are provided with language scaffolds to make learning comprehensible; foster academic conversations about complex text; and engage students through high impact language development strategies.”

Some CVESD schools continue to shine, regardless of the shift to the new standards. The top performing District school in English Language Arts was Heritage Elementary, where 83.4% of students met or exceeded standards. Heritage narrowly edged out Arroyo Vista Charter, where 83.1% of students met or exceeded standards in English. Both schools were consistently high performers under the previous standards as well.

As much as the results in English are a cause for celebration, there is still much work to be done in the subject of math. Mueller Charter posted the highest year-over-year increase in math, with growth of 15%. At Mueller, 44.2% of students met or exceeded standards in math. Mueller narrowly edged Parkview Elementary’s 13% growth in math, meaning 59.3% of students met or exceeded standards in math.

Veterans Elementary was the top performing District school in math, as 68.7% of students met or exceeded standards. Veterans Elementary Principal Froylan Villanueva noted that, since the adoption of the new standards in 2010, his teachers and staff have been working hard to implement Common Core State Standards while keeping mathematics as a school focus.

“We ensure the implementation of rich, rigorous, and relevant tasks in every lesson across all grades,” Villanueva said. “With our English Learners, we specifically focus on two standards of mathematical practice: Making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, and constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others. In addition, teachers during their collaboration time review student work and address common errors and misconceptions of their students. As an entire staff, we work with our RSP teacher and staff who specifically work with special education students to address unique learning needs. We have been strategic with the wealth of resources available. Lastly, we have implemented consistent after-school math classes serving our at-risk students in grades 2-6. Instruction is conducted by teachers at Veterans as well as our associate principal, Jameson Rienick.”



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