In Education

Understanding Assessment Data

Letter from Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools

Dear community member,

Recently, the California Department of Education released English and math assessment data from the 2022-23 school year.

While there are some encouraging signs, these assessments broadly show that we have not yet reversed the widespread decline in academic outcomes that began with the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

English assessment scores are generally flat or slightly down for most student groups in Santa Cruz County. Math assessment data is more positive, with small improvements across most student groups compared to last year. But these gains in the number of students at or above proficiency are small. And wide achievement gaps persist between disadvantaged students and their peers in both subject areas.

The data is from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) given to students in grades 3-8 and 11 last year. These results are an important indicator, and something we take very seriously as we look at where and how students need more support. But they are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to measuring academic progress, along with academic growth, non-cognitive skills, engagement and wellbeing.

This data release also included updated statewide numbers on the state of chronic absenteeism, which measures the percentage of students who miss 10% or more of the school year. That rate remained essentially static last year in Santa Cruz County in 2022-23, falling slightly from 27% to 26% compared to 2021-22.

As I’ve previously discussed, we are continuing to experience a crisis of student mental health and wellbeing. We know attendance, academic achievement, and wellness are all closely linked. When students miss class, they aren’t able to practice social-emotional skills that are essential for managing stress, gaining self-confidence, and building positive relationships.

We’re continuing to partner with the school districts to highlight the importance of consistent attendance as part of a holistic approach to ensuring students from all backgrounds can achieve their full potential. I am deeply grateful for the teachers and support staff who are working diligently to create engaging, supportive learning environments to make this work possible.

For those interested in exploring the CAASPP data further, we have updated the COE’s data portal with the latest numbers to support ease of access. Use the link and select the dashboard labeled Santa Cruz CAASPP to view the data.

Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools

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