Fourth though eighth grade students scoring higher

The Taft City School District got very low scores from second and third graders in preliminary test scores on last spring's STAR tests.

At the same time, higher grades are doing much better, even exceeding state averages in some tests

The scores were released a few days ago and the final, official total should be coming out any day.

Julie Graves updated the Board of Education last week.

Overall, the district' s test scores are up a bit, but still lag behind the state average.

But TCSD 's test scores for the lowest grades tested –two and three – were very low, and have even dropped in some categories.

But in grades four and up, the scores are significantly better with the district approaching state averages.

The district is trying to figure out the best way to address the problem, called an "achievement gap."

"We are looking at what we are doing or not doing," Supt. Ron Bryant said. "We definitely acknowledge we need to do something differently."

Graves said everything is being looked at.

"We are addressing it in a lot of ways – new curriculum, staff development," she said.

The district also has to balance the needs of students fluent in English and others.

"We obviously want to address the need of all students but we also want to address the needs of our subgroups," Graves told the board.

The district has about 2,000 students and about 25 percent are considered English language learners.

That subgroup is growing.

"It used to be a subgroup but now its a significant subgroup," Graves said.

Taft has a large and growing minority of English language learners that impact the test scores

Performance on the the tests in mathematics dropped for the district's second graders from 2011 and English language arts (ELA) scores are about the same overall, although the district's English language learning subgroup is doing worse.

Only 16 perent of that group is considered proficient in ELA.

The 2013 scores for 3nd grade ELA showed just 34 percent of the district second graders overall are considered proficient or advanced, compared to the Kern County average of 48 percent and the state average of 56 percent.

Overall scores are lowered by the English language learners subgroup, primarily children from Spanish speaking homes.

Math scores are a little better, but have dropped over the scores achieved two years ago.

Overall, 48 percent of the district's second graders are proficient or advanced in math compared to 58 percent in 2011.

That compares to 57 percent for Kern County and 65 percent for the state,

Just 32 percent of the second grade English language learners are proficient or advanced in math.

Third grade scores have dropped in both math and ELA.

Less than a third – 29 percent – of the TCSD third graders are proficient or advanced in ELA compared to 36 percent in kern County and 66 percent in the state.

Only 12 percent of the English language learners are proficient.

Math scores for third graders are better, but have dropped off over the last two years. In 2013, 63 percent of all students were proficient, down from 71 percent last year and 68 percent in 2011.

But Taft is still ahead of Kern County (36 percent) and almost at the state average.

From grades four on up, the scores are looking a lot better.

Sixty percent of all fourth graders are proficient in ELA, above the county average of 54 percent and 69 percent are proficient mathematics, ahead of Kern County (54 percent).

Yet English learners still lag. Only 28 percent are proficient in ELA and 53 percent in math.

At the fifth grade level, Taft students excel in math with 74 percent of all students and 71 percent of English learners rated at proficient or advanced, well above the county (57 percent and 32 percent) and even ahead of state averages (65 percent and 39 percent).

The fifth grade ELA testing shows Taft just head of county levels.

Sixth graders have 56 percent of all students proficient in ELA but just 10 percent of the English learners proficient.

Its very similar in math with 51 percent proficient but just 14 percent proficiency from English learners.

Still, those marks are better than the county average but below state averages.

Seventh grade scores are similar, with half of all students proficient in ELA but just 12 percent of English learners are.

In math, 42 percent of all students tested proficient but just 23 percent of the English learners did.

Eighth graders test not only for math but for algebra in addition to ELA.

Taft lags behind both the county and state in those scores.