2016 Smarter Balanced Assessments Released by State
Aug. 24, 2016
Sonoma Valley students improved on the second administration of the Smarter Balanced
Assessments just released by the California Department of Education. These tests are
administered online and strive to measure the ability to write clearly, think critically, and solve
As Superintendent Louann Carlomagno emphasized, “This year’s results highlight the growth of
our students when compared to scores from last year. The Smarter Balanced Assessments are
challenging, but our students are making strong progress.”
Students in grades three through eight, and grade eleven, took the test in the spring of 2016.
Scores fall into one of four categories: Standard Exceeded, Standard Met, Standard Nearly Met,
and Standard Not Met. Students were tested in two subjects: Mathematics and English
What’s new about the Smarter Balanced Assessments?
For the first time, the state testing system allows districts to compare the current results with
those from the previous year, a major improvement from the previous state mandated
Karla Conroy, Director of Curriculum and Instruction explained, “This seems like a simple
concept - that we would want to compare last year’s third graders with this year’s fourth graders
- but this is the first time we have had a system that allows us to do that.” Although the members
of each testing group may vary to some extent, there is enough continuity to allow the District to
identify and highlight trends in the data as students progress through the grades.
Growth in Every Grade
Notably, the percent of Sonoma Valley students scoring at Standard Met and/or Standard Exceeded increased overall. When comparing 2015-2016 results to the previous school year, each grade level showed an improvement in both mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). “We recorded an average growth of 11.4% in students Meeting and Exceeding Standard in English Language Arts over the last two years for students in grades 4-8. I am encouraged by the rate of growth we had across the district in this second year of testing,” commented Superintendent Carlomagno.
“We can attribute the wide-ranging improvement to the dedication of our teachers,” remarked
Conroy. “Transition to the new standards progressed this year as teachers continued to modify
lessons, implement new curriculum, and more fully understand the assessment. We are also
fortunate to have strong teacher leaders who provide professional development to their peers -
an incredibly effective and powerful model.”
11th Grade Results Stand Out
The results for 11th graders highlight the continued
success of many of the District’s educational
initiatives that focus on graduating students who are
ready for college and career. The commitment and
collaboration of the SVHS staff has been the key to
academic successes our grade 9-12 students are
At Sonoma Valley High School, these educational
initiatives include Freshman Teams, the Engineering
Design and Technology Academy and the
Sustainable Agriculture Academy. Additionally, all
students have access to a wide range of core
academic and elective classes which strongly
promote college and career readiness.
Success in the foundational courses of English and
mathematics lay the groundwork for student success
in all courses.
Achievement for All Students
While the scores across the District reflect growth, its educators remain acutely aware that
targeted attention needs to be paid to the diverse subgroups in the valley. “Meeting the needs of
Students with Disabilities, English Learners, Socio-economically Disadvantaged, and Gifted and
Talented students poses a unique challenge,” noted Nikarre Redcoff, Director of Student
For example, the District continues to serve a large population of Socio-economically
Disadvantaged students: sixty-two percent of Sonoma students taking the test in 2016 fell into
this category compared to a county-wide figure of forty-eight percent. Many of these students
come from a background of multi-generational poverty, and schools have struggled to overcome
barriers to achievement that these students experience.
Superintendent Carlomagno emphasized that enhancing and modifying systems of support for
subgroups of students is a top priority this year, as it has been in the past. These efforts further
support the District’s goal that all students will be college and career ready upon graduation.
Karla Conroy expressed excitement at the opportunity to support teachers with new curriculum
adoptions noted that, “Because the new standards were adopted before the new curriculum
became available, teachers have had to create their own curricula in many instances.” The
District will adopt new math and English Language curricula this year, freeing up time for
teachers to focus more on direct instruction rather than curriculum development.
Sonoma school leaders are continuing to analyze the results in detail so that educators can
reflect on areas of instructional strength as well as areas we need to examine more closely.
“Our goal is to use the data for the continuous advancement of teaching and learning,” stated
Carlomagno concluded, “These results reflect the hard work our students and educators have
put in connection with the implementation of new curriculum and new testing regimens. We are
on the right path, but there is more work to do. In connection with our community partners such
as the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, we will continue to improve in our ability to
address the needs of all students.”