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) test in mathematics.* These data are available by grade level for counties and school districts, as well as by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status for counties.
* For an explanation of the mathematics standards, by grade, see:
Math Proficiency
Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
College Eligibility
Disconnected Youth
English Learners
High School Graduation
Pupil Support Services
Reading Proficiency
School Safety
School Attendance and Discipline
School Climate
Why This Topic Is Important
Basic math skills are essential to navigate through life, and competence in mathematics is associated with workplace readiness and the potential for 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 grade 4 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, race/ethnicity, 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. (2016). Results of the 2015-16 Smarter Balanced Assessments in California. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
In 2016, 37% of public school students who took the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test met or exceeded their grade-level standard in mathematics. At the county level, figures ranged from 19% (Lake) to 59% (Marin). Disparities in math proficiency by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status are wide. For example, in 2016, 24% of socioeconomically disadvantaged students in California scored at or above their grade-level standard, compared with 58% of non-disadvantaged students, while Asian American students demonstrated proficiency at a rate four times higher than their African American/black peers (72% compared with 18%).
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).

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 students’ physical, emotional, behavioral, and other needs (4, 5)
  • In accordance with California law, supporting effective strategies to increase family involvement in school, which is linked to improvements in student behavior, academic achievement, and engagement in school, as well as improvements in school climate (6, 7)
  • As California works to meet Every Student Succeeds Act requirements, ensuring that the state's new accountability system is meaningful, 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 supports, including math coaches and specialists, and eliminating the practice of assigning students to math courses according to perceived abilities (2, 7, 8)
  • 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 (7, 8)
  • 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 that all students and schools have equal access to effective teaching (2, 7)
  • 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.  Basch, C. E., et al. (2015). Health barriers to learning and the education opportunity gap. Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from:

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

7.  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:

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