Sierra Madre School Shines in State Testing

Press Release posted 9/1/12 – Student achievement remained steady in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), according to results of the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exams released Friday by the California Department of Education (CDE). PUSD’s greatest gains were seen in the writing portions of the exam. Fourth grade students improved by 18 percentage points and seventh grade students improved by 14 points on the writing exam, the outcome of a districtwide focus on writing across the curriculum. STAR tests are administered each spring to students in grades 2-11.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released the statewide results during a news conference Friday in teacher Jodie West’s science lab at PUSD’s Washington Accelerated Elementary School in Northwest Pasadena. Washington Accelerated saw their proficient and above scores rise by 14 percentage points in English Language Arts (ELA) and 12 percentage points in math. Washington’s best achievements were in the science portion of the exam where proficient and above scores rose by 15 points. Washington Accelerated has made a commitment to strong science instruction and to prepare students for the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy that will open at neighboring Washington Middle School in fall 2013.

“I am pleased by the steady performance at most of our schools and by the gains in writing but there is still room for improvement for all of our students,” said PUSD Superintendent Jon R. Gundry. “Even in this time of rapidly diminishing resources, our students have demonstrated that when they have adequate support, they can learn and achieve at high levels. I am concerned about the persistent lag in achievement among African American and Latino students, especially when the early childhood, afterschool and summer programs that can make a difference remain underfunded.”

52.2 percent of PUSD students scored proficient or above in ELA, a gain of 11 percent since 2008 and two percent since 2011. 46 percent of PUSD students scored proficient or above in math, a rise of 8 percent since 2008 and is even with 2011.

Washington Accelerated led the district in overall improvement in both ELA and math due to a data-driven approach that had teachers and administrators periodically examining the achievement of individual students to determine areas of strength and specific areas where they needed support. “It is through this level of attention to the individual child and his or her needs that we can make academic excellence consistent across all schools and demographic groups of students,” said Gundry.

Hamilton Elementary and Sierra Madre Elementary topped the district in overall achievement in English Language Arts with 80 percent of students scoring proficient or above. Don Benito Fundamental and Sierra Madre Elementary led in math with 84 percent of students scoring proficient or above.

Visit for complete school, district and state data or visit or for more PUSD data and charts. Individual student test results will be mailed home within the next few weeks and the Academic Performance Index (API) scores will be released by the state in October.