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State Gives District High Marks

First published in the Jan. 19 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

By Mia Alva
Outlook Valley Sun

Executive Director of Programs and Services Karen Hurley presented the results of the 2022 California Dashboard at the La Cañada Unified School District meeting Tuesday.
The California Dashboard is an online tool that displays performance districts, schools and student groups on a set of state and local measures to assist in identifying strength, challenges and areas in need of improvement.
The LCUSD data that Hurley presented was released on Dec. 15, which showcases two years’ worth of data from school years ending in 2021 and 2022.
Overall, the state gave the district “very high” marks in mathematics, English language arts, English learner progress and graduation rates. Suspension rates were low, which is the desired outcome. However, the area that concerned the board was the absenteeism rate, which was rated as “medium status” as compared to other state school districts. The board acknowledged the struggle between wanting students to stay home when they are sick but also wanting students at school.
“What can we do about it?” asked Dan Jeffries, a governing board member. “We don’t want kids coming to school when they are sick. So, we are sending the message: If you are sick, stay home. … As soon as the kid is well, try and get back to school.”
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette added: “I think that we just have to get back into the mental mindset of you’re in school when you’re not ill.”
The dashboard displays performance through six state measures:

  1. Academic performance, which includes both measures for English language arts and mathematics
  2. Chronic absenteeism
  3. College and career readiness
  4. English learner progress
  5. High school graduation rate
  6. Suspension rate
    The dashboard usually measures college and career readiness; however, it was not recorded in the 2022 dashboard due to the inconsistent statewide testing results that were available in the 2021-2022 school year. Recording of test scores are set to resume in 2023.
    Some data is not showed on the dashboard for student groups that have few students in it, for privacy reasons.
    The dashboard is divided into three sections: Academic performance, academic engagement, and the conditions and climate.

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Academic performance contains four measures: English language arts, mathematics, English learner progress and college career readiness. The first two measures show how well the students are meeting grade level standards, based on student performance on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment and California Alternate Assessment, which are taken each spring by students in grades 3-8 and 11.
In English language arts and math, the LCUSD district received “very high status,” the highest possible rate.
The number of students who tested in the English language arts category was 2,086. Students with disabilities received a status level of medium and scored 2.4 points above the standard score. Seven student groups received a status level of very high: Asian, English learners, Filipino, Hispanic, two or more races, socioeconomically disadvantaged and white. Three student groups — African American, American Indian and foster youth — did not receive a status level because there were fewer than 30 students in each category.
On the dashboard, you can see the number of students in each group and how many points above or below standard they are.
For English language arts, the Asian student group had the highest points above standard at 120.8.
In mathematics, with 2,080 students tested, LCUSD received an overall very high status with 85.1 points above standard.
The very high scoring groups in English language arts received the same status level in mathematics, with a slight difference in the number of students.
The highest points above standard in mathematics were 117.4 for the Asian student group with the second highest group of students.
The English learner progress indicator explores information on the percentage of current students making progress toward English language proficiency or maintaining the highest level.
These students take a ELPAC exam and score either a 1,2,3 or 4.
In LCUSD, 79% of English learners are making progress toward English language proficiency and have a very high status level.

ACADEMIC ENGAGEMENT
Academic engagement includes two state measures in this section, chronic absenteeism and graduation rate.
The chronic absenteeism tracks districts and schools who serve kindergarten through 8th grade who are absent 10% or more of the instructional days they were enrolled.
Districts should strive for a lower status level for this category, according to Hurley.
In 2022, LCUSD had a 6.4% chronic absenteeism rate. The status level is medium for 2,587 students.
The increase in absenteeism rate was likely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and developing variants during that time, Hurley said.
Students with disabilities received a high status level, or the most absences. English learners, Filipino, Hispanic, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and white students received a medium status level. Students who are Asian or are two or more races had the fewest reported absences and the same three student groups from English language arts and mathematics did not receive a status level.

GRADUATION RATE
The graduation rate is based on the number of high school students who graduate with a regular high school diploma in either four or five years. But only students who receive a regular high school diploma are counted as graduates on the dashboard.
Students who earn a special education certificate of completion, a California high school equivalent certificate or an adult education diploma are considered nongraduates for the dashboard.
LCUSD received a very high status level, where 98.5% of students graduated with a regular high school diploma.
Students with disabilities received a medium status level while Asian, students of two or more races, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and white students received a very high status level.
African American, English learners, Filipino, foster youth, Hispanic and homeless students did not receive a status level.
In four years, 98.3% of LCUSD students got their high school diploma, while 0.3% of students received their diploma in five years.

SUSPENSION RATE
The suspension rate is the percentage of students in kindergarten through 12th grade who have been suspended at least once in a given school year. Students who are suspended multiple times are only counted once. The LCUSD received a “very low status” level for this category, which is the best outcome. The dashboard reported that of the district’s 3,980 students, .5% of them were suspended at least one day.
The data will be shared with the LCUSD leadership team, principals and assistant principals to be analyzed so that solutions can better support LCUSD students, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Anais Wenn said.
To access the 2022 California Dashboard, click here.

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