At a 10th-grade physiology class at Reseda High School, reading and language skills are combined with mathematics, and there are improved results in the latest statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) examinations given to nearly 5 million students in grades 2 through 11.
"Despite the cuts we are seeing that kind of significant progress. It's been steady over the last nine years of the STAR test," said California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
The results of the 2011 STAR program show 54 percent of students are proficient in English/language arts, and 50 percent score proficient in math. That is a 19-point increase in English language and a 15-point increase in math since 2003.
"We are not where we want to be yet but we surely are nowhere where we used to be in LAUSD," said John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). "Knowing this pace with which we can continue is only able to encourage us to demand more of ourselves, more of our students and more of our parents."
The LAUSD did a little better than the statewide numbers: 1 percent higher in the language tests and 2 percent higher than statewide in the math tests.
In the nine years of testing there has been an achievement gap among ethnic minorities, especially white students compared to Latino and African-American students.
"We still have an achievement gap for Latino-Californians and for African-American Californians that's troubling, very deeply troubling, and needs to be attacked square on," said Torlakson.
The improvement in the list scores come despite some of the worst budget cuts in education in the state's history. The superintendents point out what might have happened if they'd been fully funded.