School gets bad news from California Dashboard report

Taft Union High School has a very high graduation rate, 12 percent above the state average, but it continues to perform well below both the California standards and other schools in the state.

The low test scores could have far-reaching consequences for college-bound students as more and more four-year colleges are relaying on standardized test scores instead of traditional placement tests.

It's giving TUHS teachers a lot to think about as they try to find ways to bring overall performance in the California Dashboard up.

Director of Education Technology and Curricular Innovation Stacy Stansberry presented the school's results to the Board of Trustees Monday night.

There wasn't a lot of good news outside of the graduation rate, and even that could change.

In contrast to the lagging test performances, Taft's graduation rate is 95.4 percent compared to 83.5 percent.
Trustee Julie Ortlieb commented on the contradiction.

"We have a high graduation rate, but our test results are down," Ortlieb said. "It just doesn't calculate."

Stansberry said the school is examining its graduation requirements and may be raising them to better prepare students for the testing.

That could impact the graduation rate.

"As we raise expectations, we are going to have to watch this," she said.

TUHS students are falling way off in two education benchmarks, English language arts and mathematics.

ELA performance is 41.6 percent below standard and "declined significantly" from prior tests scores, Stansberry showed the Board.
Statewide, students are performing at just six points below standard.

Not too many schools in the state are doing well in math -- the average is 36.4 points below standard -- but Taft High is far below where it should be at 132.2 points below standard, and declined 13.5 points.

The TUHS math department is working hard to find ways to bring the scores up, Stansberry said.

Taft isn't alone.

"This has been a struggle statewide," Stansberry said.

Locally, Stansberry said, a lot of work is being done to reverse the trend with "multilevel tiers of support" including more training for math teachers.
That includes seeking ways to improve in how students perform by improving how they analyze problems and answer questions better.

TUHs is also added a math lab for its lowest performing students and working on ways to "bridge" students to algebra.
The school only requires two years of math and many students aren't taking algebra, which hampers their ability to perform on the standardized testing.

English language arts scores dropped to well below both the standard and statewide performance despite programs the school has put in, Stansberry said.