Penryn students score big on STAR tests, fellow schools excel

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Results for STAR tests released by the state should give Loomis Union School District parents something to celebrate. According to Carolyn Nichols, assistant superintendent, four district classes earned outstanding scores on the state-required STAR math tests taken last spring. STAR is an acronym for Standardized Testing and Reporting. The third- and fourth-graders at Penryn Elementary School, second-graders at Ophir School and fourth-graders at Loomis Basin Charter School scored home runs on the STAR math tests. Those students all earned advanced or proficient. In addition, 40 students earned perfect scores in STAR math or language arts tests. Those students are being honored tonight at the September school board meeting. The Penryn fourth-graders, who entered fifth grade this fall, tested amazingly well, according to their principal Andy Withers. “The kids really stepped up and strived to do well. Struggling students worked hard,” said Gina Green, the fourth-grade teacher who led the high-performing mathematicians. “It was a concerted effort from the kids, teacher and parents,” Green said. Ian Walsh, 10, was a member of the math wizard class. He said they “studied a lot, focused on math, tried not to have distractions and tried to get good grades.” “We cared a lot about how we did,” Ian said. His classmate Kenton Hamel, 10, said math is important because it “helps you go to college.” Third-grade Penryn teacher Heidi Hayes was very pleased with the outstanding scores her students achieved on the tests. She attributes the success to the program Penryn has used for a number of years – Saxon Math. Last year, the entire district adopted the Saxon textbooks. “Saxon Math makes a huge difference because it scaffolds and spirals. There is a lot of repetition. Saxon expects that students will master the concepts,” Hayes said. “We expect every child to succeed, and we give them what they need to be a success,” she said. According to Hayes, there are four components that lead to student success. She said the program, motivated kids, parents involved on a daily basis and the teacher all play key roles. Hayes’ former third-grade student, Savannah Powers, 9, is philosophical about math. “Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s easy. When it’s hard I ask for help,” Savannah said. “It’s important to do your homework,” she added. Nichols said Placer Elementary School started a Learning Center and Homework Club. Participating students achieved at least one level of growth on STAR and in some cases went from basic to proficient. “The test’s purpose is to define a child’s level of mastery of grade-level standards,” said Carolyn Nichols, assistant superintendent of the Loomis Union School District. Every spring, students in grades two to eight are tested in reading/language arts and math. In addition, older students, depending on the grade, test in science and history/social science. Nichols said the results “are used extensively during the beginning of each school year before schools transfer to using achievement data from our adopted curriculum to guide instruction.” Penryn principal Andy Withers said he’s very proud of all of his students and that STAR is important, but it’s not everything. “STAR results are just part of it. I want my students to be good citizens and good human beings, too,” Withers said. DISTRICT STAR 100% of class scored proficient or advanced in math: Penryn School third and fourth grades, Loomis Basin Charter fourth grade, Ophir School second grade 95% of class scored advanced in math: Penryn School fourth grade 95% at proficient or advanced in math: Penryn’s second grade Highest overall in math: Loomis School Highest overall in language arts: Franklin School Science high score: H. Clarke Powers and Franklin schools Gained 20 points in science: Powers School Eighth-grade history high score: Penryn School Placer School: Special program advanced participants a whole level District-wide: 40 students earned a perfect score in math or language arts