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Student assessment helps academic progress

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Incoming sixth graders listen to announcements from Principal Joseph Truss during the first day of school at Visitation Valley Middle School in San Francisco on Aug.21. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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The school year just began, and we’re already looking back.

At this time of year, we examine student test scores, parent survey responses and other data from the prior school year to learn about what’s working and what needs improvement.

RESULTS ARE IN
This past spring, students in grades 3 through 8, as well as grade 11, took part in the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) for English language arts/literacy and Mathematics.

The San Francisco Unified School District received the results from the California Department of Education a few weeks ago and has been sending each student’s results home. The state will release district and school specific results tomorrow.

WHAT IS THE CAASPP?
These exams are one way we check to make sure our students are making progress in learning math, reading and writing. The tests are based on California’s academic standards, which are designed to help all students graduate ready for college and to pursue a career.

But they don’t just check that our kids know how to choose the right answer from a list of possible answers. These tests include a wide variety of questions, requiring students explain how they solve problems, how they think critically and ask them write analytically.

WHY DO STUDENTS TAKE THE CAASPP?
We see these tests as an academic check-up. Just like class assignments and report cards, the CASSPP are one of many ways to gauge student progress and to provide you and your child’s teachers with information about your child’s progress toward the high goals we have set for our students.

By now, all our SFUSD families whose child took the test last spring should have received their student’s individual test results in the mail. The test results show, along with an overall score for each subject, information about how their child performed in different skill areas associated with English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

IS MY CHILD PROGRESSING?
If your child took these tests in previous years, this report also shows their scores from as far back as Spring 2015 tests. Families can compare previous year’s scores to this year’s scores as one measure of their child’s progress.

If you recently received your child’s CASSPP scores and would like to discuss your child’s progress, I encourage you to speak with your child’s teachers.

If you want help understanding the CAASPP report, you may call the SFUSD’s Achievement Assessments Office or attend an information session. Translation and child care will be provided for those who register in advance.

SOMETHING BUT NOT EVERYING
Keep in mind: This set of data is but one part of information that we gather to see how we are doing. I’ll share more about other measures in future columns.

MORE INFORMATION ON CAASPP SCORE REPORTS
– Wednesday, Sept. 6, 6-7 p.m., Marina Middle School, 3500 Fillmore St.

– Friday, Sept. 15, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Moscone Elementary School, 2576 Harrison St.

– Tuesday, Sept. 19, 6-7 p.m., Guadalupe Elementary School, 859 Prague St.

To register and see additional dates and locations, visit www.sfusd.edu/assessments.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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