Few students at Hayward schools meet state academic standards

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Most students at Hayward Unified School District are not meeting state standards for English, math or science.

About 66% of 8,377 students at the district did not meet achievement standards for English language arts, 82% of 8,457 did not meet the achievement standard for math and 82% of 3,448 students did not meet the achievement standard for science during the past school year, according to data from the California State Department of Education presented at the Hayward Unified Board of Education’s special Monday night meeting. Only fifth, eighth, 11th and 12th graders are tested on science.

“The numbers that we have shared this evening are disheartening,” said Lisa Davies, the district’s assistant superintendent. “It’s definitely not where we as district want to be.”

English language arts and science proficiency didn’t change much from pre-COVID to post-COVID, and 11th-graders actually saw an improvement in proficiency for science, said Hector Garcia, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

But he said that was not the case for math, where declines ranged from 2% to 8%, and those declines were the most pronounced for students who were homeless. English language arts proficiency dropped from 34% in the 2018-2019 school year to 19% in the 2021-2022 school year. Math proficiency dropped from 23% to 5% while the number of students who did not meet the standard went from 67% to 81% in English language arts and 77% to 95% in math in the same period of time.

“A lot of this data just screams the need for us to take immediate action,” Garcia said, pointing to the need for a districtwide math master plan.

Trustee Sara Prada said that the numbers “weren’t shocking” because low test scores, particularly in math, have been at crisis levels since before the pandemic. The school district was 40.3 points below standard for English language arts and 64.9 points below standard for math in 2017, but Prada said it’s been an issue for at least a couple of decades.

“Math literacy has been an issue for so many years, but it keeps being put on the backburner,” Prada said. “And so, it’s just a little frustrating to still be in the planning.”

There are teachers in the district who are doing great work who can model how to be engaging for other teachers in the district, Prada said, but the district needs to do a better job of working with and listening to frontline staff to figure out solutions.

“Why is that we have high school kids that can’t add and subtract,” Prada said. “The intervention has to be early.”

Many of the districts with lower test scores have higher rates of socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English language learners. At Hayward Unified, about two-thirds of students at the district come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and about a third are still learning the English language.

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