WCCUSD superintendent: Test score gains ‘coming too slowly’

WCCUSD holding 'Back to School Night' events for parents starting Thursday
Parents can find out more about public schools and other education programs at the free Education Fair at the Nevin Community Center Saturday.

While West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) students made small gains in state-mandated assessment tests, new superintendent Matthew Duffy believes those gains are “coming to slowly.”

On Wednesday, the district addressed results from the 2015 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), a relatively new annual measure of how well students have grasped requirements in Common Core English language arts and mathematics. The Common Core standards were adopted by the state in 2010 and the CAASPP tests have been administered twice so far during the spring.

Students in Grades 3 through 8 as well as in Grade 11 were tested. Results from spring 2015 and spring 2016 can be found here. They are simplified into four categories: standard not met, standard nearly met, standard met and standard exceeded. To see what each category means, click here.

For the results in English language arts and literacy, 41-percent of WCCUSD students who were tested in spring 2016 fell under the “standard not met” category. Twenty-four-percent of students nearly met standard, 23-percent met standard and 12-percent exceeded standard, the results show.


In mathematics, 49-percent of district students fell under the “standard not met” category, while 27-percent of students nearly met standard, 15-percent met standard and 9-percent exceeded standard.


The district, however, noted a small improvement in test scores from spring 2015 to 2016.

“About 35 percent of District students met or exceeded the standards in English Language Arts and 24 percent in Math on the tests given this past spring, compared to 32 percent and 23 percent on the 2015 tests,” WCCUSD officials noted in a statement.

While the scores show the district is moving in a positive direction, “our gains are coming too slowly,” Superintendent Matthew Duffy said in the statement.

“We need to identify and refine the approaches that have been proven effective so that all of our students are successful in the college or career pathway of their choice,” Duffy said.

The “small gains” mimicked statewide performance, which shows California students making progress on the state’s tough new standards for college and career readiness, but still struggling.

As EdSource noted, the results revealed “wide disparities in achievement among student groups, with 62 percent of English language learners, 44 percent of African-Americans, 38 percent of low-income students and 36 percent of Hispanic students scoring in the lowest of four achievement levels.”

In its statement, WCCUSD listed recent actions it has taken to speed the pace of student achievement. It includes full-day kindergarten at 34 of 36 elementary schools and a greater focus on personalized learning, including specialized tutoring support for underserved minority students.

“We will continue working with our families, teachers and community partners to develop practices that help our students grow,” Duffy said in the statement.


  1. Full day K is the first strategy the District highlights to extend educational gains, but it’s at only 34 of 36 schools. Know why? Because two elementary schools (Fairmont and Madera) are so overcrowded that there’s no enough classroom space for full day Kindergarten. And the District has spent/committed $1.4 billion of bond funds without placing any priority on crowding, without any priority towards building classrooms where they are needed. And the new Facility Master Plan update does it all over again; no priority whatsoever placed on relieving overcrowding or ensuring adequate space for learning. So the predominantly low-income, minority, ELL children at Fairmont are not going to get the full-day Kindergarten that the District itself identifies as a key strategy to close the learning gap. It’s a tragic lack of leadership by the Board and former Superintendent. I don’t know yet who I am voting for in November, but you can be damn sure that it’s going to be the candidates that promise to put educational goals as their first, second, and third priorities and that know how to actually provide leadership. (My email to the Board http://bit.ly/2bj6Cb9)

  2. Year-round schooling would benefit residents in Richmond in so many ways. And don’t be confused, year-round does not mean more days of school within a year. It means not as many days off in summer because the summer break would be split up throughout the year. Helps students retain information they normally lose over the summer break. Something we need to consider and push for.