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Redwood Bark

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Addressing lower participation rates in CAASPP testing at Redwood

During the 2022-23 school year, many upperclassmen opted out of taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Unlike other standardized tests, these assessments are mandated by California to inform students, teachers, school districts and the state of student performance in comparison to statewide standards. The evaluation focuses on Math, English and Science achievements following the Common Core and California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Common Core is the name given to the standardized curriculum adopted by public school systems in California.

Logging in, student Jacob Katz prepares to take the CAASPP tests. Redwood High School’s math test scores are in the orange, almost 70 points below the standard due to low participation rates.

The CAASPP assessment intends to allow the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) to understand whether Redwood’s curriculum adequately supports students’ growth and goals toward meeting and achieving statewide standards. The district uses the results from the assessment to make changes in its curriculum. The scores are also utilized to aid teachers in the respective subjects to properly assess their students’ abilities.

Paula Berry, the Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction, oversees the results of CAASPP tests for curriculum improvement. Berry believes that Redwood students should participate in this standardized testing, as the results help improve the school environment.

“It’s constant work by the teachers by our educational services, looking at data [from the CAASPP tests] and figuring out what tweaks we might need to make in the classroom, both instructional and curricular,” Berry said.

Berry has observed a drop in participation rates in CAASPP tests over the past years, resulting in lower scores for Redwood on the California Dashboard. Federal regulations require a specific student participation rate to provide the most accurate representation of the student body. Because Redwood did not meet this requirement, its test scores dropped.

“By law [Redwood] is required to have 95 percent of the junior class to take the tests; last year, we only had 70 percent. Participation is really important because [the state of California] wants it to reflect the student body,” Berry said. 

Every student below the 95 percent participation rate causes a downtick on the academic indicators, a scale that rates overall student performance. The lower scores also affect Redwood’s national ranking.

According to Berry, funding has yet to be affected, but the state can withhold it if Redwood continues to stay below the participation threshold. Berry emphasized that the lack of participation is the cause of lower academic indicators on the California dashboard, which gives the public a negative perception of Redwood

“Right now our school’s academic indicators are really low. It’s not an accurate reflection [of Redwood]. But that’s what the public sees,” said Berry.

 

Some upperclassmen believe that because the test doesn’t affect their grades, it’s not necessary to take it. Senior Auden Baker elected not to take the CAASPP last year.

“[The CAASPP test] has zero effect on me whether I do well or not,” Baker said. “I just don’t have a reason to do it.”

Berry explains that low CAASPP scores can also affect how colleges view course rigor at Redwood. Low test scores indicate the curriculum at Redwood isn’t fulfilling its responsibility of allowing students to meet Common Core standards. Schools with higher state test averages indicate a more rigorous curriculum, giving students who attend those schools an advantage. 

 Another reason for the low participation rates is the current issue with the timing of the standardized tests.

“The [CAASPP] tests were also at a really bad time for me,” Baker said, “I have all these [Advanced Placement (AP)] tests that affect me [personally] a lot more, and I have to study for those tests.”

TUHSD is working to make state testing more manageable for students. As a result, the district moved CAASPP testing to earlier in the year. Principal Barnaby Payne recently announced the new CAASPP schedule. April 2 and April 3 are now the primary test days for all Juniors.

To find the CAASPP Schedule: CAASPP Schedule

Have questions try the Q&A page: CAASPP FAQs

Want to see Redwood’s results from last year: Redwood High School CAASPP performance

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About the Contributors
Evan Wang
Evan Wang, Cub Reporter
Evan Wang is a sophomore at Redwood High School and is a Cub Reporter for The Redwood Bark. He enjoys spending time with family and friends and he loves traveling.
Henry Barker
Henry Barker, Cub Reporter
Henry Barker is a sophomore at Redwood High School and is a Cub Reporter for The Redwood Bark. He enjoys playing football and hanging out with his friends.