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West Valley Focus

CALABASAS : Test Scores Seen as Wake-Up Call

March 09, 1994|KURT PITZER

Las Virgenes Unified School District officials Tuesday met the results of what has been touted as a revolutionary testing system with guarded optimism, expressing hope that their students' low scores will improve dramatically during the next few years.

"I think it's a wake-up call," said Leo Lowe, the district's assistant superintendent of educational services. "Especially in terms of mathematics, we're teaching one way and the state is anticipating the youngsters will perform at another level."

The California Learning Assessment Test (CLAS), administered for the first time last spring, is intended to help steer public school curricula away from rote learning and toward a more thoughtful, integrated approach to education. Results are to be made public today.

In the affluent Las Virgenes district, which has long boasted of high aptitude among its students, results were higher than statewide averages, but generally on a par with districts and schools in the same social and economic class.

As with many districts, math scores were nearly always lower than those in reading and, especially, writing.

"The state mathematics framework has been available for two or three years, but we haven't made the change as fast," Lowe said.

"The math portion is significantly different than the traditional means to teaching mathematics, in which youngsters learn to compute. But now the emphasis is more on how to apply those computations."

With some exceptions, schools within the district were on a par with each other.

Calabasas High School students scored better on the average than their counterparts at Agoura High, where teachers and administrators planned a meeting later this week to discuss the results.

Scores at Lupin Hill Elementary School were slightly lower on the average than those of the other seven elementary schools, with only 4% of students showing a "substantial" understanding of "essential mathematical ideas."

Lupin Hill Principal Jim Robertson attributed that, in part, to demographics.

"The socioeconomic ranking at my school is the lowest in the Las Virgenes school district," Robertson said. "The scores were pretty much where we expected them to be. It shows that we, along with the rest of the state, have some work to do in how we teach long-term, math problem-solving skills."

Students at Lindero Canyon Middle School scored higher in math than students at A. E. Wright Middle School, with 27% of Lindero Canyon students scoring above the "substantial" level of understanding.

Lowe said he plans to encourage administrators and department heads at each school to organize a series of meetings on how to change the curriculum to meet the new state frameworks.

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