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School CAP Test Scores Praised: 'As High as We've Ever Been'

March 29, 1987|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer

"We are as high as we've ever been in 10 years," a state education official said, praising the performance of the class of '87 on the California Assessment Program (CAP) test administered to high school seniors in December.

Current California 12th-graders showed improvement over last year's seniors in reading, writing, spelling and mathematics in the standardized test, according to data compiled by the state Department of Education.

Seniors in Los Angeles County reflected the statewide trend by showing improvement in all four subject areas tested.

Educators said they were especially heartened by the surge in light of the cancellation of a two-year program that gave money to schools that showed gains in test scores. "Cash for CAP" was vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian before current seniors took the test.

"I was amazed that results went up as much as they did without the incentives," said Pat McCabe, consultant for CAP with the state education department in Sacramento.

Taken as a whole, Long Beach Unified School District scores stayed about the same, but they surged at Polytechnic Senior High School.

"We are very proud of it," Principal Wayne E. Piercy said of the jump of 2.2 to 3.5 points made by Polytechnic's Class of '87.

He noted that all the high schools in the district participated in the Learning Assessment Program (LAP) in which half an hour each week was devoted to improving students' test-taking skills. He also speculated that Polytechnic's performance reflected the high quality of its faculty.

Districtwide scores rose in the ABC Unified District, headquartered in Cerritos, in reading, written expression and mathematics. They dipped slightly in spelling.

"Spelling is the least of our worries," said Tom Martin, district supervisor of research, planning and evaluation. Martin said he is especially pleased to see that the district has been improving its math scores by about one percentage point a year in recent years. He noted that ABC scored higher in math than most comparable districts. "That's not too shabby," he said.

Security Was Troublesome

Martin said he had mixed feelings about the termination of the Cash for CAP program. The program required participating schools to institute special security procedures during testing and take other precautions that were a lot of trouble, he said. "But," he added, "it sure was nice when you won."

Beginning in December, California seniors will take a new, more difficult CAP test with more emphasis on reasoning and problem-solving skills, according to state education officials.

In the revised test, spelling no longer will be tested separately but as a component of written expression. In 1989, the senior test will be expanded to include questions on science, history and social science.

"The current test is not representative of what is being taught, or what we hope is being taught," said McCabe, the consultant for CAP. "With the new test there will be a very high correlation between what is being taught and what is being tested."

12-Graders' CAP Scores

Sample Question


Identify the group of words which DOES NOT correctly complete the following.

Each of the men .

A. has his work cut out for him.

B. shows great talent.

C. wishes for a chance to perform.

D. have much work to do.

(Correct answer: D)

How to Read the Scores

The 12th-grade scores of the California Assessment Program are the mean percentage of correct answers and may be compared to scores in other schools and to district, county and state averages.

Scores for third-, sixth- and eighth-grade students, who will take the test this spring, will be reported in the fall.

State, County Averages


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 62.9 63.2 69.7 68.3 85-86 62.7 63.4 70.1 68.7 86-87 63.6 64.1 70.6 70.0


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 60.1 60.5 68.3 65.3 85-86 58.6 59.8 68.0 65.0 86-87 60.9 61.6 69.3 67.3


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 63.6 64.3 71.7 71.2 85-86 62.5 64.0 71.0 72.7 86-87 65.4 65.2 70.7 73.6


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 61.5 59.1 69.8 69.0 85-86 57.3 58.9 66.1 73.4 86-87 59.6 58.7 64.3 69.2


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 64.3 66.6 72.0 69.0 85-86 64.5 66.4 72.9 70.7 86-87 66.1 66.3 73.0 73.1


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 61.7 62.6 70.0 71.0 85-86 62.2 63.1 70.7 71.2 86-87 65.2 65.1 68.7 73.4


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 74.9 77.7 83.4 88.5 85-86 72.9 75.2 81.8 86.1 86-87 76.0 77.5 83.3 85.5

Bellflower Unified DISTRICT AVERAGE

Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 60.8 62.3 68.3 67.4 85-86 58.5 60.9 71.3 66.9 86-87 60.2 63.2 72.1 66.4


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 59.0 60.3 67.2 66.5 85-86 56.8 58.3 67.6 67.5 86-87 59.0 64.0 69.7 67.1


Reading Writing Spelling Math 84-85 62.7 64.4 69.3 68.4 85-86 60.2 63.6 75.1 66.3 86-87 61.3 62.5 74.4 65.8


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