Achievement scores are important in helping schools identify areas of improvement, and the Santa Barbara Unified School District had its highest-ever scores last year.

Davis Hayden, the district’s director of research, evaluation and technology, said STAR scores can provide a sense of how a school or grade level is doing.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act sets the goal at 100 percent proficient by 2014 for adequate yearly progress, which is calculated from Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR), high school exit exams and other testing results. The AYP is more telling of a school’s performance, and schools find out whether they are in or out of program improvement, which becomes public at the end of the month.

“That’s the one that carries penalties, and that’s the one people are watching,” Hayden said. “I think we’re going to have some pretty good results when they finally release the data Aug. 31.”

STAR results designate students as advanced, proficient, basic, below basic or far below basic. Elementary students had better scores in English-language arts than in 2010, with every grade scoring at least 46 percent advanced or proficient. Fourth grade had the highest scores, with 68 percent advanced or proficient.

Elementary students scored 53 percent or higher as advanced or proficient in mathematics for every grade, again with fourth grade leading the pack at 74 percent.

Junior high and high school student scores for English-language arts ranged from 57 percent to 70 percent for advanced and proficient students. Mathematics scores were different for each subject, including algebra and geometry.

Click here for the 2011 STAR scores by district or individual school.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.