Scores Put So Pas Schools in Top Five K-12 Districts Statewide

The latest test scores put SPUSD in the top five of schools’ statewide. Photo by Nancy Lem

The South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) has been ranked in the top five of all K-12 school districts statewide, according to state officials.

“Recently, the California Department of Education released detailed 2017-2018 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results for students in grades three through eight and grade eleven,” according to a prepared statement released by school officials Tuesday. “A look at the numbers over the past four years reveals that South Pasadena Unified has experienced a seven percent gain in the number of students meeting and exceeding ELA standards (84 percent total) and a five percent gain in the number of students meeting and exceeding Math standards (79 percent total).  These results place South Pasadena students in the top five of all K-12 unified school districts in California.” In fact, the ranking places the district at five in the state.

South Pasadena Unified School Board officials were grateful for the results, contributing them to teamwork from top to bottom.

“I could not be prouder of our students or their performance on these statewide tests,” Julie Winkle Giulioni, school board member, who is up for re-election in November, said in an email to The Review. “This third year of positive results is a testament to the hard work of our teachers, staff, administrators, and of course the students. It’s also confirmation that the collaborative and rigorous approach that we took to implementing the new standards is paying off. Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved.”

The other school board member running for re-election, Michele Kipke, touted the achievement as “huge.”

“Ranking 5th is a huge achievement, one that I am very proud of,” Kipke said in an email to The Review. “We could not have achieved this success without a lot of heavy lifting on the part of our teachers, our district staff and school administrators, and our parents.” 

The assessments for ELA and mathematics are based on California’s challenging academic standards, which include the ability to write clearly, think critically and solve problems, according to the prepared statement released by the district Tuesday morning. 2017-2018 reports on English/ Language Arts statewide assessments revealed a one-percent increase from the prior year, with 84 percent of students meeting and exceeding standards district-wide. Math assessment scores held steady with 79 percent of students meeting and exceeding standards.

In that same prepared statement, Schools’ Superintendent Geoff Yantz explained the ranking this way.

“CAASPP is one way that we measure how students are learning. Students continue to excel in learning the state standards while districtwide, strategic goals keep our team of teachers, staff and administrators focused on planning the best ways for students to succeed.”

School Board member Elisabeth Eilers agreed.

“Like any student progress assessment, the CAASPP results provide one opportunity to measure student success within our District,” said Eilers in an email to The Review. “It’s important to pause and cheer on our students and teachers, but also to challenge ourselves to implement different strategies to improve in the future.”  

That was echoed by the other board members, who in unison all said this is a validation of the district’s hard work.

“South Pasadena students continue to perform at high levels on CAASPP testing,” said Board President Jon Primuth in an email to the Review. “This is a great opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate the success of our teachers, administrators and most importantly, students.” 

And finally School Board member, Dr. Suzie Abajian, put the scores in perspective by talking about the future.

“Our students are sustaining and building momentum with their CAASPP results,” said Abajian in an email to The Review. “California’s academic standards prepare students for college and careers in the future. CAASPP testing is one way of measuring student progress toward these goals, and in South Pasadena, we are very proud of our students’ success in this area as well as other areas as measured by the California Dashboard.”