Santa Barbara Unified School District test scores
(Joshua Molina / Noozhawk illustration)

Overall student test scores in the Santa Barbara Unified School District dropped 8.87% in math and 6.37% in English, according to 2022 information released from the California Department of Education last week.

In terms of overall percentages, 48% of students met or exceeded standards in English language arts and 36% did so in math.

Asian and white students performed the highest on standardized test scores. In fact, the number of Asian students who met or exceeded standards in English and Math increased between 2019 and 2022. But Hispanic and African-American student test scores headed in the opposite direction.

The number of Hispanic students who met or exceeded standards in English dropped to 34.44% in 2022 from 39.8% in 2019. Hispanic students’ math scores fell to 21.77% from 29.91%.

For African-American students, the decline in those who met or exceeded state standards was even steeper. African-American student scores in English plunged to 26.67% in 2022 from 51% in 2019. In math, the number fell even further, to 17.86% from 44.23%.

The number of white students who met or exceeded statewide standards also posted declines. White students’ English scores dropped to 70% from 79.1% while their math scores fell to 59.5% from 70.62%.

“The most vulnerable marginalized communities were impacted the most by the (COVID-19) pandemic and our test results reflect that disparity,” schools Superintendent Hilda Maldonado told Noozhawk.

“Even though overall SBUSD results are slightly better than the state, we have much work to do. The SBUSD initiatives will continue to focus on addressing the gaps between groups. This needs our undivided attention.”

The tests were issued last spring to students in grades three through eight, and in 11th grade. While test scores overall are down, there are individual success stories at certain schools that Noozhawk will explore in future coverage.

Throughout California, about 47% of students met or exceeded standards in English language arts and about a third met or exceeded standards in math — declines of 4% and 6.5%, respectively, from 2019, the last year that the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests were required.

The Goleta Union School District, which has about 3,700 students in its nine elementary schools, performed significantly higher than the Santa Barbara Unified School District, which has more than 13,000 students enrolled at 12 elementary, four junior high and five high schools.

Overall, 63.7% of Goleta students’ English scores met or exceeded the standards, and 56.2% met or exceeded the math standards. From 2019, the drop was only 2% and 3%, respectively.

Parceled out by race, 44.4% of Hispanic students met or exceeded standards for English and 36.1% did so in math. Among African-American students, the scores were 38.5% in English and 30.8% in math.

For Asian students, 82.6% of students met or exceeded English standards and 79% did so in math. Among white students, the scores were 80.1% in English and 74.6% in math.

Since 2019 there has been a small decline in the percent of students at or above standard, likely due at least in part to lost instructional time because of extensive absences,” said Karin Ezal, GUSD board president. “When students were quarantined, many lost a lot of instruction due to being out of school. Another challenge was that schools couldn’t mix groups of students last year. Now that cohorts can mix, students can be shifted around across grade levels for the enrichment blocks so that they get targeted instruction based on their needs.”

Ezal said the district is maintaining small class sizes and holding teacher professional development, allowing for individualized interventions.

“Small class size makes a difference so that teachers can provide tiered levels of support in the classroom,” Ezal said. “Student progress is frequently monitored through regular intervals of assessment in both reading and math.”

In the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, the 16 elementary and four junior high schools showed an overall decline of test scores, with just 26.5% and 16% of students having met or exceeded English and math standards, respectively. In 2019, the percentages were 34.4% in English and 26.2% in math.

In the Orcutt Union School District, 49.7% of students met or exceeded standards in English and 35% did so in math.

Check back with Noozhawk in the coming weeks for more coverage and analysis of statewide test scores.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.