Orange County students kept making strides in the second year of state-mandated math and English test, with O.C. students once again outperforming their peers across the Golden State, according to data released by the Department of Education.

The Department of Education released scores from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress exams in August, the results of tests which students from all over the state took online in the spring.

On the state level, 49 percent of students reached or exceeded expected English standards, an improvement of 5 percent over last year’s results. In math, 37 percent of California students reached or exceeded statewide standards, marking a 4 percent improvement over last year.

In Orange County, 57 percent of students scored in the top two tiers in English, a 4 percent increase over last year. On the math side, 31 percent of O.C. students scored in the top two tiers, an increase of 3 percent over last year.

Irvine Unified School District once again performed exceptionally well, with 79 percent of all students reaching or exceeding English standards and 75 percent reaching or exceeding math standards, an increase of 2 and 1 percent over last year, respectively. Irvine Unified students came in first in math and second in English in the state during last year’s standardized tests.

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Santa Unified was the worst-performing school district, with just 28 percent of its students reaching or exceeding English standards and only 23 reaching or exceeding math standards. Even so, that marks an improvement of 3 and 2 percentage points over last year, respectively. Scores for all grade levels either improved or stayed the same compared to 2015.

More than 3.2 million Californians in third- through eighth-grade, took the online tests over the spring. The tests, based on national Common Core standards, emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills while preparing students for the adult world.

In a news release announcing the results, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the scores show that parents and educators getting better at preparing students for college and careers in the modern world. Torlakson chalked up the higher scores to an extra year of teaching the standards, a higher comfort level with the online test-taking platform and better resources for schools, teachers and parents.

But Torlakson also noted there is more work to be done, and urged business, political and community leaders to continue their support for schools and students. Of ongoing concern to the state’s educational administrators is the persistent gap in test scores between white, black and Latino students. Just 37 percent of Latino students and 31 percent of black students reached or exceeded English standards, compared to a full 64 percent of white students. Torlakson is proposing the formation of a new office in the state’s Department of Education to address the so-called achievement gap.

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(all data current as of 5/25/2017)

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