Standardized Assessment Performance

Achievement gaps across sociodemographic lines such as race/ethnicity and parental income begin as early as kindergarten and follow students throughout their education.[1] Students from low-income families are more likely to have poor nutrition[2], inconsistent healthcare access[3], higher exposure to pollution[4], and more consistent stress.[5] These factors may harm brain development[6] and/or distract students from their education.[7] Parents who work inconsistent or long work schedules (a pattern common among those with multiple part-time jobs, temporary jobs, “gig economy” jobs, or other precarious work arrangements) may not be available to read with their children, help with homework, attend school functions, or do other activities that support their children’s learning.[8] Parents who have limited English or mathematics skills themselves may struggle to support their children’s academic performance in these subjects, even if they do have the time. Although standardized testing has received a large amount of criticism from students, educators, and administrators, it remains a fundamental part of the education system within the U.S.[9]
The California Department of Education reports standardized test scores for students across the state in English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades three through eight and grade eleven through the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment.[10] Students with severe cognitive disabilities and English language learners within their first 12 months of attending school in the United States are excluded from these assessments.[11] The figures below present the percentage of San Diego County students who were tested and met or exceeded grade level standard on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment for English Language Arts and Mathematics by disability status, race/ethnicity, economic status, and sex for the 2021-2022 school year.  Students reported as “economically disadvantaged” met at least one of seven criteria including: neither of student’s parents received a high school diploma, eligible for free or reduced lunch, eligible for or participated in the Title 1 Part C Migrant program, considered homeless, eligible for foster program, enrolled in a Juvenile Course School, or eligible as Tribal Foster Youth.[12]
About 53% of students in San Diego County met or exceeded grade level standard in English Language Arts in the school year 2021-2022 (Figure 1). Asian, Filipino, White students and students who identified as two or more races met or exceeded grade level beyond the overall county (Figure 2). Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino students were about half as likely to meet or exceed grade level standard compared to White students and students who identified as Two or More Races. About 58% of female students met or exceeded grade level standard compared to male students at 48% (Figure 3). Students with a reported disability were three times less likely to meet or exceed grade level standard than students without a reported disability (Figure 4) and economically disadvantaged students were two times less likely to meet or exceed grade level standard than students who were not economically disadvantaged (Figure 5).
Similar patterns emerged across Math assessment scores. Overall, the percentage of students in San Diego County that met or exceeded grade level standard for Math was less than English Language Arts at 39% (Figure 1). The percentage of Asian, Filipino, and White students and students who identified as Two or More Races surpassed the overall county percentage (Figure 2). Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native students were over two times less likely to meet or exceed grade level standard in Math than White and Filipino students and about three times less likely than Asian students. While female students outperformed their male counterparts in English Language Arts, male students met or exceeded grade level standard in Math more often than female students (41% and 37%, respectively) (Figure 3). About 15% of students with a reported disability met or exceeded grade level standard, while almost three times (43%) as many students without a reported disability met or exceeded grade level standard (Figure 4). Economically disadvantaged students were almost two times less likely to meet grade level standard than students who were not economically disadvantaged (Figure 5).

Data Information
Data Source: California Department of Education, Academic Year 2021-2022.
References
  1. Reardon S.F., Robinson-Cimpian J.P., & Weathers, E.S.(2008). Patterns and trends in racial/ethnic achievement gaps and socioeconomic academic achievement gap.Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy.497-516. New York, NY: Routledge.
  2. Nelson, M. (2000). Childhood nutrition and poverty. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 59(2), 307–315. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665100000343
  3. Lazar, M., & Davenport, L. (2018). Barriers to health care access for low income families: A review of literature. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 35(1), 28–37. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370016.2018.1404832
  4. Grineski, S., Bolin, B., & Boone, C. (2007). Criteria air pollution and marginalized populations: Environmental inequity in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Social Science Quarterly, 88(2), 535–554. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2007.00470.x
  5. Ridge, T. (2011). The Everyday costs of poverty in childhood: A review of qualitative research exploring the lives and experiences of low-income children in the UK. Children & Society, 25(1), 73–84.
  6. Shonkoff, J. P., Phillips, D. A., & National Research Council (U.S.) (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early child development. National Academy Press.
  7. Engle, P. L., & Black, M. M. (2008). The effect of poverty on child development and educational outcomes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1136(1), 243–256. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1425.023
  8. Barnes, M., Bryson, C., & Maisey, R. (2006). Working atypical hours: What happens to “family life”? National Centre for Social Research.
  9. Hutt, E. L. & Schneider, J. (2018). A History of Achievement Testing in the United States Or: Explaining the Persistence of Inadequacy. Teachers College Record 120(11):1-34.
  10. CA Dept of Education. (n.d.). 2021–22 Smarter Balanced ELA and Mathematics Test Results at a Glance—CAASPP Reporting. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://caaspp-elpac.ets.org/caaspp/DashViewReportSB?ps=true&lstTestYear=2022&lstTestType=B&lstGroup=1&lstSubGroup=1&lstGrade=13&lstSchoolType=A&lstCounty=37&lstDistrict=00000&lstSchool=0000000
  11. CAASPP Description – CalEDFacts (n.d) Retrieved August 2, 2023 from, CAASPP Description - CalEdFacts (CA Dept of Education)
  12. California Department of Education: CALPADS. (n.d.). Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Subgroup. Retrieved August 9, 2023, from https://documentation.calpads.org/Glossary/AccountabilitySubgroupData/Socio-EconomicallyDisadvantagedSubgroup/
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Updated February 7, 2024