Test scores for schools in the Long Beach Unified School increased slightly in three of five subject areas, even as statewide scores declined slightly in all but one area. Local schools also continued to show strong performance in eighth grade algebra, far surpassing the state’s performance. Algebra is widely considered to be a gatekeeper course for college admission.
The gains for Long Beach schools place them near statewide averages despite the district’s more challenging demographics. About 70% of students here live in poverty, compared to 57.5% statewide.
“For more than 10 years now, we have seen an overall trend of improved student achievement, despite the serious challenges of poverty and statewide cuts to education. We continue to see encouraging progress thanks to the hard work of our employees, students, parents and many supporters in the community,” said LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser. “As always, we see areas where we can adjust and improve further. We’re analyzing the latest preliminary data carefully, and with the help of funding flexibility recently approved at the state and federal levels, along with additional resources from grants and the state budget, we anticipate even stronger gains in the coming years.”
The LBUSD scores are considered preliminary because they do not include data for the school district’s 15 year-round elementary schools whose students take state tests on a later schedule.
LBUSD saw a 0.9% increase in English proficiency, a 0.8% increase in history, and a 1.8% increase on grade 5, 8 and 10 science tests. Science “end-of-course” test scores (for discrete science subjects such as biology and physics) and math scores both decreased by 2.1%. In eighth grade algebra, Long Beach’s proficiency rate of 73% represented a gain of 4% compared to last year and far surpassed the state’s proficiency rate of 50%, even as Long Beach enrolled a greater percentage of students in this course (60% compared to the state’s 58%).
Long Beach’s superior proficiency rate in eighth grade algebra was reported at schools in all geographic areas of the school district, including demographically challenged schools like Franklin Middle School, where 74% of students scored proficient or above in eighth grade algebra, with more than 63% of eighth graders enrolled in that course. At Franklin, nearly 100% of students live in poverty, as determined by eligibility for free and reduced price meals.
“We’ve focused on eighth grade algebra because we know how key it is to equity and access to higher education,” Steinhauser said. “The aim is to help lift students out of poverty and give all students a chance to pursue college and rewarding careers. Clearly our work in algebra is paying dividends for students who come from all walks of life.”
The state saw slight decreases on English, math and grades 5, 8 and 10 science tests, as well as on science end-of-course tests. The only subject area to see statewide gains was history, up 0.6%.