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Testing data proves Rainier caters to students from under-served communities

By Amanda Ramirez

Staff Writer

The California Charter Schools Association rated Summit Public Schools: Rainier in the top 10 percent of schools with a similar student population based on data from the new statewide exam: The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in 2016.

“It is a good test to see what we want our students to learn, and it validates what we know about what our students are learning compared to other students in the state,” said Jesse Roe, the executive director of Summit Rainier.

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This graph compares the English literacy CAASPP data between the state, the district, and Summit Rainier in 2016. 75 percent of juniors at Summit Rainier met or exceeded the standard for English proficiency. 49 percent of students at the state level and 62 percent of students at the district level met or exceeded the standard for English proficiency.

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This graph compares the math CAASPP data within the state, the district and Summit Rainier in 2016. 41 percent met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency on the 2016 CAASPP exam.  37 percent at a state level and 39 percent at a district level met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency.

The CAASPP exam tests students’ critical thinking, analytical writing and problem-solving skills. It is also a Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is an adaptive, online system that tailors to the answers a student provides. This assessment, based on the Common Core standards, is built to effectively measure a student’s performance, while also providing support to English language learners and students with special needs for the most accurate results.

According to Mr. Roe, it is important for 11th grade students to score well on this state-wide exam because it is a way to show the state, the district and the local community the effectiveness of the project-based, college prep curriculum at Summit Rainier. Additionally, it is a way for Summit Rainier to keep themselves accountable to their mission of preparing a diverse student population –including those of underserved communities– for college.

This is important for juniors across the state to keep in mind since their CAASPP scores will affect how they begin their college careers. Mr. Roe said this is a placement exam for students planning on attending a CSU or UC for college.

At Summit Rainier, preparing a diverse student population for college is a key element of the school’s mission. Mr. Roe said student diversity is not only about multiculturalism, but is also derived from the types of middle schools students come from and how prepared they are for high school when they arrive to Summit Rainier.

“We believe everybody’s experiences provide value to us and helps make us a stronger community,” Mr. Roe said. “When we say diversity, we mean diversity of how people think, learn, and how prepared they are when they get to us.”

Within the diverse community Summit Rainier prepares, the school staff also wants to make sure they are effectively supporting under-served student populations. For example, English language learners, students with special needs and other subgroups with lower test scores receive support from teachers and other staff members to be as successful as possible.

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This graph compares the math proficiency CAASPP data within the state, the district and Summit Rainier of Hispanics/Latinos. 22 percent met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency on the 2016 CAASPP exam at Summit Rainier.  24 percent at a state level and 16 percent at a district level met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency.

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This graph compares the English literacy CAASPP data within the state, the district and Summit Rainier of Hispanics/Latinos. 66 percent met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency on the 2016 CAASPP exam at Summit Rainier.  46 percent at a state level and 16 percent at a district level met or exceeded the standard for English literacy.

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This graph compares the math proficiency CAASPP data within the state, district, and Summit Rainier of English language learners. Zero percent met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency on the 2016 CAASPP exam at Summit Rainier.  12 percent at a state level and 9 percent at a district level met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency.

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This graph compares the English literacy CAASPP data within the state, the district and Summit Rainier of English language learners. 19 percent met or exceeded the standard for math proficiency on the 2016 CAASPP exam at Summit Rainier.  13 percent at a state level and zero percent at a district level met or exceeded the standard for English literacy.

Summit Rainier’s curriculum prepares students for college through projects that assess a student’s critical thinking and cognitive skills, but Mr. Roe recognized a weakness in the curriculum affecting student performance on the CAASPP.

“Our gaps are very consistent with the gaps you see at a state and district level,” Mr. Roe acknowledged. He went on to say, “Latino students are underperforming compared to white and Asian students, and students with disabilities are underperforming compared to students that are English proficient and don’t have disabilities.”

The school is seeking ways to find a balance between how much they should rely on the curriculum, projects and other support methods in the program, and how much they should rely on additional support to help the students prepare for the exam.

“We do want to find a better balance because we want our English language learning students, students with special needs and Latino students struggling to perform on that exam to reach the same level as their peers in the remaining subgroups,”  Mr. Roe said. He continued, “This indicates Summit Rainier still has areas of improvement to make sure the curriculum is accessible to students with disabilities and who are limited in English proficiency.”

Mr. Roe remains optimistic despite the setbacks Summit Rainier encounters. “It is not something we can change overnight,” he explained, “but we do expect to have stronger scores this year based on the way we have adjusted the program to support our current 11th grade students.”

Summit Rainier has been taking steps to help its students’ score better on the CAASPP based on test scores from previous years. Mr. Roe was on a group of leaders in the Summit Public Schools organization that examined past CAASPP data to determine areas that the schools are doing well, ways they can improve, what test prep should look like and different options that the schools can take to produce better test prep.

Mr. Roe also credited the faculty at Summit Rainier for directly integrating more student support services into the curriculum, which he believes has been reflected in the growth of student performance.

In addition to changes in the curriculum, Mr. Roe said they have increased parent communication and involvement so students can feel supported at school as well as at home and so that parents can understand ways they can help.

“We hope to continue to see that growth year to year until we can truly say that we have been able to serve every student.”

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