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THE 'STANFORD 9' TESTS | REPORT CARD: How L.A. County
Schools Fared on Statewide Exams

L.A. Schools' Report Card / GRADE 8

July 23, 1999

How did your school do on the statewide tests?

* UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS / READING THE TABLES

In California, almost 4.2 million public school students in grades 2 through 11 took the Stanford 9 standardized tests this spring, for the second year in a row. All of them were tested in reading, math and writing. Students through grade 8 also took a spelling test, and students in higher grades took exams in science and history/social science.

On Thursday, the state Department of Education released scores for each school. The Times today presents scores from selected testing subjects, and from three "bellwether" grades: fourth, eighth and 10th.

Readers who want to know how a school in Los Angeles County is doing can use this cross-section of scores as a gauge. But keep in mind that these are results for individual grades only, not the entire school. Scores vary from grade to grade--and from classroom to classroom--even at the same school.

Results for all grades, schools and districts in all categories will be available on the Internet at a state Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov.

To find your school's scores:

* Look first for the grade level: "Grade 4" for elementary school, "Grade 8" for middle school or "Grade 10" for high school.

* Then, search down the column to find your school district. Individual schools are listed underneath, in alphabetical order.

* The scores appear to the right of your school's name. The columns report 1998 and 1999 testing data in the "Reading" and "Math" categories. Use the guide at the top of each column of numbers to determine which category the score is in.

For each test, the chart shows the national percentile rank achieved by students in each school, in both years. (See below: "How to Interpret the Percentile Rank.")

(Note: State officials warn that strict comparisons of a school's 1998 and 1999 scores may be misleading. One reason is that Proposition 227 has brought major changes in instruction for students not fluent in English, and the Stanford 9 test is designed to measure achievement by students who are fluent.)

* The chart also has a category labeled "%LEP Tested." This column of numbers shows the percentage of students who took the test at the school who were classified as "limited English-proficient." Schools with a higher percentage of such students will tend to have lower scores, in part because these students may have had difficulty understanding the questions, which were all in English.

* The far right column, labeled "Std. 99," shows student performance on questions reflecting California's standards in language arts. The score is the average number of questions answered correctly by students in that grade. (Students in the grades listed here answered 90 such questions.) Because this is the first year for such questions, there is as yet no definition of what is "good" or "bad."

*

Note: An asterisk (*) means the number of students tested was 10 or fewer. A dash (--) means data were unavailable.

*

* HOW TO INTERPRET THE PERCENTILE RANK

Even among experts, there is no one view on what a percentile rank tells about school performance. But a rank of 50 means that, taken together, the school's students were right at the national average when measured against a sample of their peers across the country--even though some students at the school may be doing quite well and others poorly.

A percentile rank of 25 or less suggests that many of the students are doing poorly when measured against the national sample. A rank of 75 or above shows that a high percentage of students are doing well. Scores for grades or schools in which few children were tested may appear abnormally high or low, and should be interpreted cautiously.

Comparing the individual scores sent to your home with those of the school will help you gauge where your child ranks against classmates.

*

* COMPARISONS

You might want to compare your school's average with that of your entire district, Los Angeles County or the state. These were the average percentile scores for the state and Los Angeles Unified:

* Grade 4

Reading: State: 42nd percentile. Los Angeles County: 33rd percentile

Math: State: 44th percentile. Los Angeles County: 38th percentile

* Grade 8

Reading: State: 46th percentile. Los Angeles County: 38th percentile

Math: State: 48th percentile. Los Angeles County: 41st percentile

* Grade 10

Reading: State: 32nd percentile. Los Angeles County: 26th percentile

Math: State: 45th percentile. Los Angeles County: 41st percentile

*

Main story, A1.

How to Read the Scores

A quick reader's guide to the tables: What the categories are and what the scores mean. For more information on the tests and an expanded explanation of the tables, see main story, A1; box, U2.

* Reading '98: The score reflects the school's national percentile rank on 1998 Stanford 9 test.

* Reading '99: National percentile rank on 1999 Stanford 9 test.

* Math '98: National percentile rank on 1998 Stanford 9 test.

* Math '99: National percentile rank on 1999 Stanford 9 test.

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