Students Meeting or Exceeding Grade-Level Standard in Mathematics (CAASPP), by Race/Ethnicity

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Learn More About Math Proficiency

Measures of Math Proficiency on reports the percentage of public school students meeting or exceeding their grade-level standard on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in Mathematics, as well as this information by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.*

In addition, provides the number and percentage of 10th grade public school students who passed the mathematics section of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE); these data are also available by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
The primary purpose of the CAHSEE, according to the California Department of Education, was to significantly improve pupil achievement in public high schools and to ensure that students who graduate from high schools can demonstrate grade-level competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. The mathematics section of the CAHSEE addressed state standards in grades 6 and 7, and in Algebra I. Between grades 10 and 12, students had six opportunities to take the test. The CAHSEE was offered for the first time in spring 2001. Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, students were required to pass the CAHSEE to receive a public high school diploma, in addition to meeting the individual school district's requirements for graduation. The CAHSEE was suspended effective January 1, 2016.

*For an explanation of the standards, by grade, see
Math Proficiency
Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
College Eligibility
English Learners
High School Graduation
Disconnected Youth
Pupil Support Service Personnel
Reading Proficiency
School Connectedness
School Safety
Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions
Why This Topic Is Important
Basic math skills are essential to navigate through life, and competence in mathematics is associated with readiness for the workplace and higher future earnings (1, 2). Math proficiency also is a predictor of college attendance (2). Nationwide, increasing emphasis is being placed on children's achievement in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering, recognizing the importance of these fields in the country's future and ability to innovate (2). According to a 2014 report, the U.S. ranked 11th, internationally, in 4th grade math assessments (2). In California, student math scores consistently rank among the lowest in the nation, even though U.S. and California scores generally have improved since the 1990s (3). Further, large inequities persist in math achievement by student socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic group, and English Learner status, statewide and nationally (3, 4).
For more information on math proficiency, see’s Research & Links section.

1.  Child Trends Databank. (2015). Mathematics proficiency. Retrieved from:

2.  Pane, N. E. (2014). Math scores add up for Hispanic students: States and school districts notable for recent gains by Hispanic students in mathematics. Child Trends Hispanic Institute. Retrieved from:

3.  National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). The nation’s report card. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from:

4.  Education Trust–West. (2015). Student achievement in California: 2015 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
In 2015, 33% of California 3rd-11th graders met or exceeded their grade-level standard in Mathematics on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). At the county level, figures ranged from 17% to 56%. 2015 data also show disparities in math proficiency by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For example, 21% of economically disadvantaged students in California scored at or above their grade-level standard, compared to 52% of higher income students, while Asian American students demonstrated proficiency at a rate (69%) four times higher than their African American/Black peers (16%).

With regard to the high school exit exam, 85% of California 10th graders passed the mathematics portion in 2015. At the state level, the passing percentages have increased overall, and for almost all types of students (i.e., those with and without economic disadvantages, and those in every racial/ethnic group for which data are available) since 2005. However, economically disadvantaged students still have lower overall passing percentages than higher income students, and disparities remain among racial/ethnic groups.
Policy Implications
Significant education policy changes have taken place in California and the U.S. in recent years, such as the state's Local Control Funding Formula, the Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (1, 2). Policymakers now face challenges in effectively implementing these large-scale changes, which have the potential to reduce long-standing achievement gaps in math proficiency by race/ethnicity, income level, disability status, and English Learner status (2).

According to research and subject experts, policy options that could improve math proficiency include:
  • Ensuring that all children have access to high-quality preschool or kindergarten readiness programs, which lay the foundation for later achievement (3, 4)
  • Continuing to support K-12 schools in creating positive school climates and developing comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based systems to address student needs, e.g., physical, emotional, behavioral, or other needs (4, 5, 6)
  • In accordance with California law, supporting effective strategies to involve families in school, which is linked to improvements in student academic achievement, engagement in school, and behavior, as well as improvements in school climate (7, 8)
  • As California works to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act requirements, ensuring that the state's new accountability system is effective, streamlined, and supports all students, particularly low-income students, children of color, students with disabilities, and English Learners (1, 2)
  • Supporting efforts to provide school districts and county offices of education with affordable technical assistance as they implement California's Local Control Funding Formula, and ensuring implementation effectively focuses resources on high-need students (2, 3)
  • Ensuring that all students have access to high-quality Common Core-aligned curricula and other classroom support, such as math coaches and specialists, and reducing or eliminating the practice of assigning students to math courses according to perceived abilities (2, 8, 9)
  • Ensuring that teachers hold high expectations for all students and have access to ongoing professional development and coaching opportunities, including time to collaborate in professional learning communities (8, 9)
  • Supporting efforts to incentivize college graduates to enter the teaching profession, work at high-need schools, and teach hard-to-staff subjects such as math and science; also, ensuring equitable distribution of high-quality teachers, so all students and schools have equal access to effective teaching (2, 8)
  • Continuing to improve the state's education data system, so that it provides meaningful reports to local educators and leaders to inform decision-making (3)
For more policy ideas related to math proficiency, see the Research & Links section on or visit the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse, Education Trust–West, and EdSource. Also see Policy Implications on under High School Graduation, College Eligibility, and Family Income and Poverty.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Education Trust–West. (2015). The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015: What it means for equity and accountability in California. Retrieved from:

2.  Education Trust–West. (2014). The Education Trust–West 2014 Policy Agenda: Tectonic shifts in California's education landscape. Retrieved from:

3.  Hill, L., et al. (2016). California's future: K-12 education. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from:

4.  My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. (2014). My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report to the President. Retrieved from:

5.  Adelman, H., & Taylor, L. (2015). Transforming student and learning supports: Developing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system. Center for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved from:

6.  Basch, C. E., et al. (2015). Health barriers to learning and the education opportunity gap. Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from:

7.  Thigpen, D., & Freedberg, L. (2014). The power of parents: Research underscores the impact of parent involvement in schools. EdSource and New America Media. Retrieved from:

8.  Banks, A., et al. (2015). Changing the equation: Ensuring the Common Core math standards enable all students to excel in California schools. Education Trust–West. Retrieved from:

9.  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (n.d.). Principles to actions: Executive summary. Retrieved from:
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Math Proficiency