Whittier Union High School District

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WUHSD Students Improving Performance on STAR Tests


API Chart for 2011 Whittier Union High School students continue to steadily improve their academic performance, with a larger proportion scoring proficient or higher on the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program exams in English–language arts and mathematics, according to data from the California Department of Education (CDE).


Each year, more WUHSD students are scoring proficient or advanced on both the English-language arts and math California Standards Tests (CSTs). In 2012, 50% of Whittier Union’s students scored proficient or higher on the English-language arts test, up from 32% in 2006. In math, 36% of Whittier Union’ students scored proficient or higher, up from 15 percent in 2006.


When looking at 2012 CST results for grades 9-11, Whittier Union students’ performance continues to surpass that of high school students in most neighboring public high schools, data show.


In addition to the continual annual gains in proficiency, more Whittier Union students are not only taking more advanced math courses, but they are scoring proficient or higher on the related tests, with 46% scoring proficient or higher in Algebra II and 54% scoring proficient or higher in Summative Math, the exam given to students in Calculus or AP Probability and Statistics. This data is based on the CSTs taken by students who have been enrolled at Whittier Union since October 2011, whose scores are used to calculate the district’s state Academic Performance Index and federal Annual Yearly Progress.


“It is very encouraging to see that a greater percentage of our students are scoring proficient or higher on STAR tests, demonstrating that they are mastering the standards,” said Sandra Thorstenson, Superintendent of the Whittier Union High School District. “We are working diligently to ensure that all of our students continue to improve their academic skills in all subject areas.”  


Thorstenson and school officials attribute students’ growing academic improvement to the district’s Whatever It Takes initiative, which led to the creation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s). Through PLC’s, teachers are deepening their efforts to frequently collaborate, using common assessments to develop and share the most effective teaching strategies on a department, school, and district-wide level.


This work is paid for by federal categorical dollars that are required to be spent on professional development, Thorstenson noted.


“We believe that our staff development programs enable our teachers to realize significant improvement in student achievement across multiple measures,” Thorstenson said.


In addition to rising levels of proficiency on CSTs, nearly 100 percent of all Whittier Union seniors meet the California High School State Exit Exam (CAHSEE) requirement. More than 93 percent of the 13,000 students from the district’s five comprehensive high schools are graduating. Also, 52% of seniors are completing all courses required for entrance into four-year universities and 95% of seniors enroll in post-secondary education.


As a result of higher test scores, Whittier Union’s Academic Performance Index also has climbed steadily over the years and is nearing the state benchmark of 800.


“Our students’ progress is directly related to the efforts of our exemplary Board of Trustees, teachers and staff who do “Whatever It Takes” to improve every facet of our students’ education,” Thorstenson said.