High school students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District made a five-point gain on this year’s state standardized test in mathematics proficiency compared with last year.

According to 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results released by the California Department of Education, district high school students improved to 40 percent proficiency in math but elementary and middle school performance in math remained flat from the previous year with 81 percent and 65 percent proficiency, respectively.

Statewide, only 29 percent of high school students scored proficient or advanced in mathematics.

“Our secondary math teachers have been working very hard on retooling the math curriculum and improving instructional practice,” said Rosa Serratore, the district’s math coordinator. “We still have a long way to go, but feel confident we are on the right track to ensure that SMMUSD students are successful in rigorous and engaging mathematics.”

STAR reports reflect student academic achievement on the California Standards Test (CST) in English language arts, math, science and history. Test scores are categorized in five levels: Far Below Basic, Below Basic, Basic, Proficient or Advanced.

Santa Monica-Malibu schools continued to show improvements in 2012 in the percentage of students at the proficient or advanced levels. Proficiency rates increased by one or two percentage points in each subject area except for history, which dropped by one point.

“These relatively small gains over the prior year are part of a longitudinal pattern of steady and continuous improvement,” district Superintendent Sandra Lyon said. “Our multi-year, upward trend reflects the high caliber of our classroom teachers and their on-going efforts to improve instructional practice.

“Our work continues as we implement our strategic plan to address the achievement gap for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English learners and students with disabilities.”

Santa Monica High School’s five-point increase in math achievement was a source of pride for Principal Laurel Fretz and math department chair Marae Cruce, who say they will be further analyzing the data with their teachers in the coming weeks.

“These increases truly reflect the commitment of our teachers who have been honing their instructional practices to make sure every student is engaged in learning,” Fretz said.

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