CAASPP Results 2016 Parent Overview

Dear LCUSD Community,

I want to commend our students for their outstanding performance on the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).  Scores from districts across the state were released publicly today.  The percentage of LCUSD students meeting or exceeding standards on these rigorous measures in English Language Arts and mathematics was maintained or demonstrated growth at each of our school sites.  Placing amongst the highest performing school districts in California is a great accomplishment and our students should be proud of their significant achievements on this statewide assessment.  I am grateful to our teachers and support staff for their dedicated professionalism; they constantly provide outstanding instruction and guidance to ensure student success.  And finally, our parents are equal contributors to these stellar outcomes - continually partnering with our schools to strengthen our districtwide commitment to personal growth and academic excellence.

Our Chief Director of Assessment, Research, Consolidated Programs and CALPADS, Lindi Dreibelbis, crafted the following news announcement highlighting features of our students’ excellent performance.  Please take the time to read below so that we can celebrate together the outstanding achievements of LCUSD students on the 2016 CAASPP!

Wendy Sinnette


La Cañada Unified School District continues to perform as a top academic district in the state according to the test scores released by the California Department of Education this week. La Cañada students’ scored first, second or third place across the state in every grade level, except seventh, in both English and math. Fifth, sixth and eighth graders took top honors in English when compared to other traditionally high performing school districts. In math, LCUSD’s sixth graders also took first place. Other top unified districts in the state are San Marino, Piedmont City and Palo Alto. There is a tight pack among the highest performers. Other districts trail behind in greater margins.

Students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment System (SBAC) Summative Assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics last spring. These assessments are part of the larger California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. This is the second year of these new computer-adaptive tests. They are administered in grades 3-8 and 11 and also include a performance task. Aligned with the California’s challenging academic standards, the SBAC summative tests are designed to assess grade-level learning that measures progress toward college and career readiness.

At La Cañada Elementary School, 90% or more of students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 met or exceeded the standards in English. In math, the highest performance was in third grade at 94%. Palm Crest Elementary shined in sixth grade with its highest scores at 93% meeting the mark in English and 95% in math. Ninety percent of third graders at Paradise Canyon Elementary met or exceeded the standards.  Lindi Dreibelbis, chief director of assessment, said, “This high student performance is remarkable. The level of integration and application of learning expected of students today is demanding and our students continue to knock it out of the park.”

La Cañada High School juniors amazed staff by improving upon their extremely high scores from 2015. Juniors’ previous scores across the state were uncharacteristically high and a dip was expected this school year. Instead, in English, 92% of LCHS juniors met or exceeded the state target, an increase of 3% over juniors in 2015. Math scores also improved for juniors by 4% to 83% of students meeting or exceeding the state academic expectations.

There are four achievement levels in the SBAC Summative Assessments: exceeded, met, nearly met and not met. Looking at mean scale score performance also allows another level of analysis, Dreibelbis explained. There can be more than 250 points within an achievement level. Using mean scale scores is the most accurate metric to measure growth. In LCUSD, each grade level, except seventh, had a higher mean scale score this year than last in English. The same is true for math, except that eighth grade dipped less than one point. This shows the interest to improve all students’ learning, not only focusing on those at the top achievement level, Dreibelbis explained. 

The individual student score reports were sent to parents in mid-August. They received their child’s results over the last two years, if the tests were also taken in 2015. Unlike the former California Standards Tests (CST), vertical scaling was not available. Comparing one year’s results to another was not recommended in the old system. However, the new SBAC summative scores allow families, schools and districts to measure growth over time within the same group of students. For example, rather than comparing last year’s third graders to this year’s third graders, the new scores also allow comparisons between third graders in 2015 to fourth graders in 2016. Comparing cohorts as they matriculate in LCUSD will be a new additional way to review the quality of our programs, said Dreibelbis.   

She added, “The new standards are much more rigorous than the old ones. Our teachers have stepped up to meet the new challenges and students did not disappoint. I am very proud our district’s continual growth.”

The other assessment results in the CAASPP System: California Science Assessments and California Alternate Assessment will be released later in the fall.