Del Mar Union School District’s test scores rank at top in the state


The results are in and the Del Mar Union School District learned that it has again outperformed the county and state on the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASP) Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Out of 1,088 school districts in California, the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) ranked eighth in English language arts and fifth in math.

“We are performing in the top one percent statewide, something to be very proud of,” said Shelley Petersen, assistant superintendent of instructional services. “We know it’s only one measure (of student progress) but it’s still very nice to see that.”

The Smarter Balanced tests are given to students third through eighth grade and eleven. Each test, English language arts and math, is comprised of a computer adaptive test and a performance task. The test also looks at student performance in “claims,” such as reading, writing, listening, research/inquiry in English language arts and problem solving and data analysis, concepts and procedures and communicating reasoning in math.

The 2017 scores reflected a two percent increase over last year in the number of students who met or exceeded standards for English language arts (ELA) and math, and DMUSD saw significant increases in the claims of writing and research/inquiry.

Petersen reported that 86.3 percent of Del Mar students met and exceeded standards in ELA. The neighboring Solana Beach School District had 85.44 percent and Rancho Santa Fe School District achieved 84.88 percent.

In math, 84.78 percent of DMUSD students met or exceeded the math standards. In the Solana Beach district, 79.98 percent of students met or exceeded the math standards and 81.65 percent did in Rancho Santa Fe.

When looking at the scores by grade level, DMUSD additionally far outperformed county and state averages, Petersen said. She said the grade level data for students who exceed the standards for ELA is “compelling,” showing 60 percent exceed standards in third grade, above 65 percent in fifth and almost 60 percent of sixth graders.

“The number of students who have surpassed expectations at their grade level, is pretty astounding,” Petersen said.

The results look very much the same in math — actually higher in fourth, fifth and sixth grade than ELA.

Petersen also spoke about the percentages of students who are not meeting or near meeting standards — she said while they talk a lot about percentages, it’s important to be mindful that those numbers represent actual students.

“When we look at ELA in third grade, the total number of students not at standard is 104 students out of 631 students,” Petersen said. “When you see a low percentage, you think ‘Wow we’re doing great’ but that’s 104 students that need additional support so that they do meet standards. Those are significant numbers for us and where we focus our intervention moving forward.”

In the fourth grade, 91 out of 692 students did not meet the ELA standards, as well as 122 out of 724 fifth graders and 104 out of 712 sixth grade students.

In math, 118 out of 614 third graders tested did not meet the standards, 95 of 681 fourth graders did not, as well as 81 of 703 fifth graders and 76 out of 702 sixth graders.

Petersen said the numbers are “still very good but not good enough” and they will work hard to address those student needs.

The district’s test scores will be incorporated into the new state accountability system, the California School Dashboard Report, which will be available for public viewing in December. The color-coded dashboard replaced the Academic Performance Index (API) score and takes into account state and local indicators such as English learner progress, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and parent engagement as well as test results.

“The Smarter Balanced results and the reason we achieve the way we do is because we continue to focus on the instructional core,” Petersen said, noting that in developing that strong core, the district utilizes “deliberate and purposeful” implementation of research-based practices. “We continue to invest in people through high-quality, sustained, professional learning… Every individual in our district contributes to student success and student success is not an accident. It is due to hard work and because we pay attention over time to the right elements.”