The Temecula Valley Unified School District was among the Top 5 highest performing unified school districts in Riverside County on California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) administered in the spring, it was announced Friday.
Along with Temecula Valley Unified, Murrieta Valley Unified, Corona-Norco Unified, Beaumont Unified and Desert Sands Unified were the highest performing in the county, according to a news release from the Riverside County Office of Education.
Compared to 2011, Temecula students improved in five of five testing areas in 2012, according to results released Friday by the California Department of Education.
In English-language arts, which is administered in grades second through 11th, 77.4 percent of Temecula student were proficient or above—an improvement of of 2.8 percentage points from the previous year.
In mathematics, 61.7 percent of Temecula students in grades second through seventh were proficient or above— an increase of 1 percentage point.
The most improvement was seen in science, which is taken by students in fifth, eighth and 10th grades. Of those tested, 81 scored at the proficient or advanced levels, a bump of 3.3 percent from 2011. Additionally, 60.9 percent of students exiting science score proficient or advanced on their end-of-course examinations—a increase of 3.1 percent.
In history, which is taken in eighth and 11th grades and end-of-course, 64.7 percent of students tested proficient or advanced—a increase of 3.1 percent over last year.
Countywide, students continued improving their scores.
"We want a high quality of life for all Riverside County residents. That will require high-quality education. This kind of sustained improvement in our test scores shows our schools are focused on creating the educational culture we need to reach that aim," said county Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young.
In English-language arts, 56.2 percent scored advanced or proficient; in mathematics, 48.7 percent, according to CDE data.
Last year, 53.4 percent of students scored advanced or proficient in English and 47.7 percent achieved those levels in math.
Those scores lagged behind the statewide average, which shows 57.2 percent scoring advanced or proficient in English and 51.5 percent in math.
Young acknowledged that the county test results accentuate the importance of placing more "emphasis on increasing mathematics skills much earlier in school."
The STAR program incorporates results from the California Standards Tests, California Modified Assessment, California Alternate Performance Assessment and Standards-based Tests in Spanish for Spanish-speaking and English-learner students.
Young hailed a 3 percent gain in the percentage of students who scored proficient or better in eighth-grade science, as well as a 5-percent bump in eighth-grade chemistry proficiency and an overall 61 percent proficiency ranking in high school physics -- double the totals of nine years ago.
"To be employment competitive in today's economy, our students will increasingly need skill-sets based in ... science, technology, engineering and math," the superintendent said. "Riverside County teachers and students get that. These numbers are evidence that they are rising to this challenge together."
The improvement in scores on the 2012 STAR mirrored increases seen across the state, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
"In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two," Torlakson said. "That's nearly 900,000 more students reaching proficiency now than in 2003 -- a remarkable achievement that represents real, sustained improvements in learning."
—City News Service contributed to this report.