Goleta elementary literary rates.
Credit: Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk infographic

Nearly four out of 10 students in the Goleta Union School District are not reading at grade level, according to results from the latest round of Star 360 testing. 

“We, as a district, take complete ownership of that,” Superintendent Diana Galindo Roybal said. “We are not ignoring the fact that our students need to be able to become readers by the end of third grade.”

The district’s Board of Trustees will discuss the test scores and literacy rates at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at 401 N. Fairview Ave. in person or via Zoom Audio, 976 1125 1470, Passcode: 041453.

Of the 37% not performing at grade level, 20% are near or approaching grade level and 9% are in intensive learning, meaning they need additional support in order to be at grade level. The remaining 8% of students who are not performing at grade level are in special education. These students are tested for a learning disability, and parents and the school work together to create an individualized education plan.

The lowest performing school in the district for literacy is El Camino Elementary. The school has 291 students, with 151, or 52%, performing below grade level.

The highest-performing school in the district is Mountain View, which has 308 students. Of those, 61, or 20%, are performing at below grade level.

Schools with the highest number of children who are not yet at grade level often live in the lowest socioeconomic status, Roybal said. In order to help close the achievement gap, the state has included universal preschool as part of the public education system. Funding for schools is determined by the number of students who are in lower socioeconomic status and by the number of students who are learning English as a second language, Roybal said.

Kindergarten through sixth-grade students are given the STAR 360 test, which evaluates their reading and writing abilities. The recent information is based on test results from September to November 2022.

The district evaluates the data every trimester, to assess whether there is improvement. However, according to Roybal, schools are giving the tests more frequently, as often as once a month.

Roybal said improving literacy rates will help in other areas. 

“We believe that if we work on reading that’s going to naturally help support other areas because obviously if you can’t read it’s kind of hard to do well in science, it’s hard to do well in math, it’s hard to do well in social studies,” Roybal said. “Literacy really affects everything.”

Roybal said she has been meeting with principals in the district to discuss each school’s STAR 360 data and how they can improve their scores. 

“What I’m hearing is that we need to provide some additional training to our teachers to help them make sense of the reports and the data,” Roybal said. “So that’s my goal is listening and looking at the data with principals and then helping them kind of identify what it is their school needs to support the kids who are still struggling and reading.”

There have been improvements already. According to the report, in 2021, 573 students in the district who were not at grade level required “intensive” support. That number fell to 282 students who need intensive support. 

“Now we still have a lot of work to do, but you can see that’s a significant improvement,” Roybal said.

Mary Kahn, assistant superintendent of instructional services for the school district, said the data that will be shared in the presentation Wednesday night is not fully indicative of a student’s success but rather the start.

“There’s a lot of other data points that our teachers and related staff use to determine if a child was having success,” Kahn said. “So the first thing they need to look at is what the other data points say.”

Kahn said student absences have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, which may contribute to lower test scores. Additionally, students may need to be tested for an individualized education plan, or require additional support than can be diagnosed through the tests. 

Avatar photo

Grace Kitayama, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Grace Kitayama is a Noozhawk staff writer.