Skip to main content

Math Achievement in California

**California Collaborative on District Reform. (2018). Proficiency Rates on Math CST 2008–2013 and Meeting Standards Rates on Math CAASPP, 2015–2018. [California student performance data for December 4–5, 2018, meeting of the California Collaborative on District Reform]. Available at

This graph provides statewide and select districts’ mathematics California Standards Test proficiency rates from 2007-2013 and meeting standards rates on mathematics California Assessment for Student Performance and Progress from 2015-17. The selected districts are the largest in the state that have at least 20% English learners and at least 40% of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch.

**Warren, P. (2018). California's K-12 test scores: What can the available data tell us? San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from

This report examines the performance of California students on standardized tests developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Despite modest growth in English-language arts test scores, mathematics proficiency in 2016-17 actually dropped between 3rd and 11th grade. Low-income students have lower scores throughout the state, while higher-income students show significant differences by region. Limitations of the data include the short time span represented (only two years are available) and challenges caused by reclassification of special education and EL students.

Cano, R. (2018, Otober 2). ). California’s test scores are so stagnant, it could take a generation to close the achievement gap. Retrieved from

These graphs and 5 lessons from California’s test scores come from a CALmatters article addressing the state’s 2018 achievement results. The first graph shows that SBAC mathematics scores have risen slightly between 2015 and 2018, though most progress was only in the first, post-baseline year. 2018 results show that only 39% of California students met or exceeded standards on the mathematics portion of the SBAC, an increase of only 1% from the previous year. The second graph shows California’s achievement gap in mathematics between 2015 and 2018. In 2018, only 19.7% of California’s Black students and 26.6% of California’s Hispanic students met or exceeded state standards. The article also lists five lessons that emerge from the SBAC results: (1) Test scores are rising very slowly, (2) fewer  than 39% of students in grades 3-8 and 11 met or exceeded math standards, (3) overall math scores rose by about 1.1 points from last year, (4) California’s achievement gap is still a chasm, and (5) test scores for 11th graders took a nosedive.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2017a). 2017 mathematics state snapshot report, Califonira grade 4 public schools. Retrieved from

National Center for Education Statistics. (2017b) 2017 mathematics state snapshot report, California grade 8 public schools. Retrieved from

This handout summarizes California’s 2017 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 4th and 8th grade mathematics. Since 2000, California has had fewer students score “Below Basic” and more students score “Proficient” but continues to score lower than the national average overall across both grade levels. California also scored lower than at least 33 states, and performance gaps between White, Black, and Hispanic students are not significantly different from where they were in 2000.

Nayfack, M., Park, V., Hough, H., & Willis, L. (2017). Building systems knowlege for continuous improvement: Early lessons from the CORE district. Retrieved from

This fishbone diagram and case study are excerpts from a report by PACE on building systems knowledge for continuous improvement. The fishbone diagram reflects one of CORE’s improvement communities’ (CIC) initial brainstorming activities and illustrates ideas about causes for the gap in 6th grade African American students’ mathematics achievement. The rectangles at the top and bottom of the diagram identify some of these key contributing factors, and the skeleton connected to each rectangle lists some of the specific details connected to each one.  The case study highlights how the iterative approach to data collection and analysis and using multiple sources of data helped one CIC build system understanding related to their problem of practice.

**This document is considered a priority reading.