Oct. 18, 2018 — Lost Hills Elementary School District students are making considerable gains in their English Language Arts (ELA) standardized test scores. New California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) data released last week by the California Department of Education (CDE) shows the district has improved ELA scores by more than 11 percent over the past two years. The progress in ELA is significant given the fact that 79 percent of students in the district are from low-income households, 68 percent are English learners, and 48 percent are migrant students.
CAASPP is an online assessment that students in grades 3-8 and 11 take each spring, based on California’s challenging academic standards in ELA and mathematics. Students are asked to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems just as they will need to do in college and career.
District officials attribute the growth to having a focused and deliberate process for analyzing data and using that information to make adjustments to teaching practices. The work has been spearheaded by a local education consultant who has been instrumental in helping district administrators and teacher understand what improvement is, and more importantly, how to do it well as a system.
For example, last year the district focused primarily on reading fluency. Benchmark assessments were used to understand how well instructional practices were working and which areas students needed more intervention.
“We have completely restructured the way we meet and talk about teaching and learning,” said Harrison Favereaux, Chief Administrative Officer of the Lost Hills Elementary School District. “Prior to last year, our leadership team talked about a lot of things, but we didn't implement any one thing really well. Now, we understand how to have more effective conversations around teaching and learning.”
While the district’s growth in ELA ranks in the top five of all 47 school districts throughout Kern County, progress in mathematics has remained flat over the past two years.
“We realize we still have a lot of work ahead in math,” Favereaux said. “But, we feel we are in a good position to start moving the needle in our math scores based on the improvement structures we have been practicing.”
Furthermore, the district was recently awarded a $2.5 million federal community-school grant, which will allow it to hire a math coach to support students who are in most need of intervention. Grant funds will also help improve the district's counseling and socio-emotional supports and enhance its preschool program.
“We are serious about improvement,” Favereaux added. “We aspire to become the highest performing rural district within the next five years.”