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Newhall schools ace STAR tests

District scores high despite many English language learners

Posted: August 15, 2008 9:48 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

Despite serving the largest population of English language learners in the valley, the Newhall School District outscored all other elementary school districts on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) tests.

"We started a new writing program six years ago, and I think that's one of the factors that drove up our scores," said Marc Winger, superintendent of the Newhall School District. "We've also been training our teachers to work with the English language learners, and I think we're starting to see the fruits of those labors."

The STAR tests are taken by all California students, and the results of last spring's testing were released Thursday. Elementary students are tested in English-language arts, mathematics and science, and their scores reflect the percentage of students who were proficient in that subject.

Winger called McGrath Elementary the district's biggest success story. The five-year-old school showed tremendous improvement, with scores improving 14 percent in English-language arts, 11 percent in mathematics and 20 percent in science.

"Their scores leapt up, and that has to do with the achievements of the English language learners," Winger said.

The Newhall district's science scores also improve at every school, which Winger attributes to a new focus on science and the addition of science labs to several district schools.

Science scores were also up at the Saugus Union School District, with James Foster and Bridgeport elementary schools showing the biggest jumps with an increase of 21 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Mountainview and Plum Canyon elementary schools boasted the highest scores in the Saugus district, and the district's overall scores improved in English-language arts and science, while remaining unchanged in mathematics.

The percentage of students testing at proficient in the Sulphur Springs School District improved in every category, and every school in the district improved in the English-language arts category.

Sulphur Springs Elementary boasted the highest scores in that district, and Mint Canyon Elementary showed the most improvement.

At the Castaic Union School District, the district's scores improved in every category, and scores at Castaic Middle School also improved in every category. The middle school's scores were competitive when compared with the scores of the William S. Hart Union High School District's junior high scores.

All of the Castaic district's schools science scores improved, and Northlake Hills science score jumped 18 percent, giving that school the top score in the district. Northlake Hills also had the highest score in mathematics, while Castaic Elementary boasted the highest score in English-language arts.

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