SLO County school test scores improved slightly in 2019 — find out how your district fared

San Luis Obispo County students’ English and math skills improved in 2019 — but only just slightly, according to data released by the California Department of Education this month.

Roughly 56.7% of San Luis Obispo County students met or exceeded the state’s English and language arts standards in 2019, while only 45.5% met or exceeded the math standards, according to data released Oct. 9.

This is a slight improvement over the 2018 numbers, in which 55% tested at or above the English standards for their grade level and 44% at or above the math standards.

This year’s test results did continue the local trend of SLO County students outperforming their peers: statewide, only 50.9% of students met or exceeded the English and language arts standards while 39.7% met or exceeded the math standards, placing San Luis Obispo County students well above the state’s average.

The 2019 scores also echo the statewide trend of only minor improvements to California test scores year over year.

Students take the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) each year from third to eighth grade, and again in the 11th grade, to measure their educational progress. The most recent iteration of the test was first administered in 2015.

In a news release, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond acknowledged the slight score increases but said he was deeply concerned that improvement wasn’t steady in the higher grades, and that there were declines in scores for students of color across many parts of California.

“Disparities between students of color and their white and Asian peers continue from year to year and demonstrate the importance of our priority initiative of closing the achievement gap,” Thurmond said in the news release. “Education equity should mean equity for all students and right now, we are not there.”

How do SLO County school districts compare?

Between the county’s largest school districts, the results varied widely.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District, which stretches from SLO to Morro Bay, once again reported the highest test scores in the county.

More than 70% of San Luis Coastal students met or exceeded the language arts standards, while a whopping 64% met the math standards.

This vastly outpaced the other comparable districts in the county with elementary, middle and high schools (some of the county’s smaller districts encompass only elementary schools or elementary and middle schools).

In an email to The Tribune, San Luis Coastal Superintendent Eric Prater said the district’s scores are high because of the district’s focus on “great teaching and site leadership, sound curriculum, and timely interventions for students who need extra help.”

“Probably the most important thing we do is to develop authentic, caring relationships with our students,” Prater wrote.

Moving forward, Prater said, the district is still working to close the achievement and opportunity gaps between “non-economically and economically disadvantaged student populations.”

“Our multi-year focus on equity and inclusivity will make a difference in the near future,” Prater wrote.

The next highest performer in both English and math was Templeton Unified School District, where 63% met or exceeded the language arts standards and 47% met or exceeded math standards.

The lowest performing school district was Shandon Joint Unified, where only 32% of students tested passed the English section of the test, and 25% passed the math.

To check your individual school’s results, visit

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.