California schools continued their steady gains in achievement, and for the first time more than half of them met the state's target score, according to California's annual index of school achievement released Thursday.
As always, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Contra Costa county schools in general outperformed state averages. The statewide numbers offered some encouraging trends: Black and Latino students made greater gains than did white and Asian students but still lag far behind in scores. The scores for the 2011-12 school year are based on standardized tests administered last spring.
But the slew of scores released also highlighted the stark divergence between state and federal scores. Even while more schools are meeting state targets, more of them are missing federal ones. That's because the state measures year-to-year improvement in achievement, while the federal system looks only at proficiency, or how many children are at or above grade level. And its demands for the proportion of students expected to meet that benchmark rise steeply every year. For 2011-12, about 78 percent of students had to test proficient in math and English.
By the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act, only 26 percent of California schools met federal targets. That's a drop from 35 percent last year, largely because that target was raised by 11 percentage points last year.
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