Taft students still below state average but latest test scores "very, very positive."

Final data released Monday by the California Department of Education confirms significant strides made by Taft City School District students on mandated standardized test scores used to measure success.
Official figures on results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting – more commonly known as the STAR test – show Kern County school districts continue to show improvement but still fall below the state average.
Some school district actually lost ground, but Taft showed significant gains in both the English/language arts and math tests despite two years of budget cuts that eliminated teacher aides and increased the number of students in the classroom.
District teachers and principals have put in extra time upgrading the curriculum and classroom focus with the aim of improving student performance on standardized tests that are part of the No Child Left Behind mandates.
They are essentially “teaching to the test,” an approach that has drawn some criticism and prompted some states to find ways to mitigate NCLB benchmarks they consider unattainable.
Of 1,497 Taft City students who took the English/language arts exam last spring, 40.5 percent scored as either proficient or advanced compared to 33 percent the year before
On the math portion of the test, which was completed by 1,485 students, 47.9 percent scored proficient or advanced compared to the previous year’s 39.1 percent.
Statewide averages were 54.4 percent in English/language arts and 50.3 percent in math.
District targets are 67.6 percent in English language arts and 68.5 percent in math.
 “We didn’t quite meet our target, but it’s looking very, very positive,” Julie Graves, who coordinates testing for the district, told the board of trustees last week.
“The positive growth is very significant,” she said.  “It’s been a lot of hard work.  The pattern is a positive growth.  It does look like we’ll have some reason to celebrate.”