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The Campanile

The Campanile

Low CAASPP test scores cause concern


Following changes to the way scores are reported for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, Paly’s state standardized test scores plummeted earning designations of “Very Low” and “Low” in the ELA and Math sections respectively.

But these designations are misleading. When schools fail to achieve 95% CAASPP participation, the State now assigns a failing score of zero for any student who opts out. 

In reality, out of Paly students who took the test, 88.04% and 83.74% met or exceeded standards in ELA and Math respectively. 

While The Campanile recognizes that the CAASPP testing system — like any standardized testing system — is inherently flawed, to accurately reflect Paly’s elite status, school administrators must increase CAASPP participation rates by spreading more awareness of its importance. 

Even though Paly’s CAASPP participation rates have steadily increased over the past four years, from 19% in 2019 to 51% in 2022, we still lag far behind the 95% state threshold and Gunn’s 86% participation. 

Despite their flaws, the low test scores negatively impact the school and the district in serious ways. 

Because the California Department of Education State Dashboard is widely accessible to the public, low CAASPP participation and thus low CAASPP scores under the new system harm the academic reputation of Paly. 

Quality of education frequently plays an influential role in determining where a family moving into the area decides to live, and when the state’s metrics show dismal results, families may look elsewhere. 

Especially given PAUSD’s declining enrollment in recent years, The Campanile thinks it is critical that students take the CAASPP to help maintain Paly’s strong academic reputation.

This is where administrators and student leaders have work to do, as there are only a handful of perceived benefits to students who take the CAASPP. 

Scoring well does make students eligible for individual honors such as the State Seal of Biliteracy, and it offers advantages in course placement at some California State Universities. 

But considering that less than 10% of our graduates attend CSUs, for most students there is no real direct repercussion for not taking the test or reward for taking it.

Once administrators have given students a good reason to take the test and provided some incentives for them to do so, The Campanile hopes all this year’s juniors will take the CAASPP to support the district and fulfill an ethical duty to help the school and the district. 

Students must learn the value of working together to uplift a community even at the expense of some personal freedom — an attitude The Campanile believes is necessary for a properly functioning democracy.

Working under a flawed standardized testing system, Paly and PAUSD remain accountable for ensuring high CAASPP participation rates. 

The Campanile hopes a collective effort between administrators and students will enable us to re-establish Paly’s prestige and reputation when it comes to CAASPP testing rates and CAASPP scores.

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