Charter school students who are now under investigation for allegedly cheating on standardized testing took the exams at a slightly higher rate than students from across the Capistrano Unified School District.
On Sunday, the left-leaning Orange Juice Blog published unattributed accusations that Oxford Preparatory Academy officials encouraged poorer-performing students to stay home on days the Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, exams were given in the spring.
But Sue Roche, superintendent for Oxford, said Monday when contacted by Patch: “The test participation rate will speak for itself.”
STAR results are part of the equation used to calculate a school’s Academic Performance Index score, a standard for measuring a school's success. Each school must have a 95 percent participation rate to meet federal accountability requirements, according to a document from the California Department of Education.
The state released STAR results in August, and they include participation rates, which show that 96.7 percent of OPA students took the English language arts test.
The only grade level that dropped below 95 percent was the third grade, which saw 88.9 percent of its students tested. According to the state, OPA had 63 third-graders enrolled, and 56 took the tests.
OPA Chancellor Jason Watts said he wasn't sure why the third-grade figures were lower than the other grades. He does believe there will be some slight adjustments to the final participation rates.
"There were some students who had disenrolled in February far before the tests," Watts said. But they show up in the total enrollment figures. Once they're removed, the participation rate will go even higher, he said.
Overall, OPA students took the STAR at slightly higher rates than Capistrano Unified students districtwide. Comparing a similarly aged population of second- to eighth-graders, 96.2 percent of Capo students took the STAR tests. Extending that number through to 11th graders, 96.3 percent of Capo’s students participated.
Oxford Prep 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Students Enrolled 72 63 54 70 62 33 28 Students Tested 70 56 53 69 60 32 27 % of Enrollment 97.2 88.9 98.1 98.6 96.8 97 100
CUSD 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Students Enrolled 3,710 3,874 3,804 3,909 3,957 4,026 3,985 Students Tested 3,674 3,722 3,616 3,731 3,778 3,872 3,822 % of Enrollment 99 96.1 95.1 95.4 95.5 96.2 95.9