ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN BERKELEY UNIFIED 2015-2017
Standardized testing is far from perfect, but it can also be a powerful way to gauge student learning and identify areas for improvement. An analysis of state test scores by third, fifth and ninth graders at Berkeley Unified School District shows that despite ongoing programs and investments in closing the achievement gap, white and Asian-American students continue to outperform other student groups across all subjects and grade levels. However, there has been improvement for some groups, especially in third grade reading literacy. This is important because being able to read, comprehend and analyze material is a strong predictor of academic success in later grades.
Research shows that students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who are proficient readers. BUSD test scores indicate that from 2015 to 2017, reading rates of all third graders increased for all groups.
African Americans saw an increase of 6 percent while Hispanic student scores increased by 15 percent. Despite these improvements, African American, Latino, socio-economically disadvantaged, English learners, and students with disabilities tested at much lower rates than their white counterparts.
Significant disparities in English Language and the Language Arts remain. In 2017, only 18 percent African American students read at grade level, compared to 82 percent of White students. Only 19 percent of English Language Learners and socio-economically disadvantaged students read at grade level. All of these groups would benefit from one-on-one tutoring and reading coaches as well as summer literacy programs.
From 2015 to 2017, math scores fell for all fifth grade students in the district. The biggest drop in scores was seen among English learners and Hispanic students. The data indicates that more math intervention and one-on-one support is needed for all groups.
Only 24 percent of African-American ninth graders read at grade level in 2017, compared to 82 percent of White students and 47 percent Hispanic students.
Proficiency in mathematics extends beyond the academic domain. Young people who transition to adulthood with limited math skills are likely to find it difficult to function in society. Basic arithmetic skills are required for everyday tasks, and sometimes for job applications. Additionally, competence in mathematics skills is related to higher levels of employability.