Clark students dominate the Common Core exam


Christine Ohanyan

Timothy Cruz discusses his educational endeavors.

Christine Ohanyan, Staff Writer

Once again, Clark students have succeeded to make a dreaded standardized test look like a piece of cake.

GUSD schools collectively exceeded the California average on the new computerized Common Core State Standards exams, among which Clark Magnet High School juniors scoring the highest in the district.

The results on the state’s website show that in the mathematics portion of the exam, 36% of the 531 juniors exceeded the state standard, 43% met it, 18% nearly met it, and only 2% did not, in comparison to the scores at Hoover High School, where of the 813 juniors tested, 16% exceeded the math standard, 23% met it, 27% nearly met it and 35% did not meet it. The now-senior class also excelled in the English language arts portion, with 50% of Clark exceeding the standard, 42% meeting it and 8% nearly meeting it.

The general consensus of why Clark students were so successful, among the staff and the students themselves, is that the rigorous curriculum enforced by Clark teachers before and especially after the creation of Common Core resulted in extremely thorough preparation for the exam.

Math teacher Amir Ghavam, who said that he made changes to the courses he taught last year in order to align his teaching with the Common Core, said that he was pleasantly surprised to see the outstanding outcome of the new curriculum. “I knew that our students were going to do well. I didn’t know that they would be performing off the charts,” he said. “I think we prepare our students very well, and I’m glad to see that our preparations paid off, even though it was the first year and everyone had to adapt the changes and additions in our classes.”

For Assistant Principal Lena Kortoshian, however, the high scores were not a surprise at all. Kortoshian said that Clark has been preparing for this rigorous exam since day one. “The four C’s have always been there — critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. We’ve always had lots of collaboration and group projects,” she said, “and I know how the teachers teach. They really care about the students, and always push them.

“Our teachers accept our standards well, and so do the students. We want to say thank you to the students, for their 100% participation, and thank you to the teachers, for preparing them so well.”

Head Counselor Karine Turdjian was also not too shocked by outcome of the exam. “Our teachers have high expectations of our students, and the students are very competitive,” she said.

Though it’s difficult to imagine being ecstatic about taking a test like none other before, Clark students seemed to adjust well with their teachers’ guidance. ASB President and senior Timothy Cruz said that the unfamiliarity of the test caused him to lose confidence in his answers, but knowledge attained from Common Core-related assignments in his classes led him to the correct responses. “It was definitely a different experience because it was essentially everything the CSTs weren’t. I felt that there were no clear answer to any question, so I found myself doubting all my answers along the way,” he said. “I didn’t actually prepare for it much on my own because most of my teachers throughout the year flipped their classes around to prepare us for the test. So by testing week, I felt prepared to tackle multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer and to synthesize various documents to produce a strong, coherent essay.”

Cruz also thought that last year’s juniors’ success could have been predicted by the teachers’ efforts to adapt to Common Core standards. “I’m not very surprised because Clark teachers throughout the past two years did prepare us well and it definitely reflects in the results,” he said. “Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the test because it meant a lot of changes in class curriculum and some pretty rough learning curves for both the teachers and the students. But clearly, Clark is on the right path and the adjustment process should be easier each year, so I’m looking forward to even higher scores in the future.”