Academic Performance: 5th Grade Math

Only One in Four Fifth Graders Meet Standards

Research shows that basic math skills are necessary in order to navigate through life, and competence in math is associated with readiness for the workplace and higher future earnings.1 This indicator measures fifth grade proficiency for mathematics using the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress assessment (CAASPP) results. The CAASPP assessment is a computer-adaptive, end-of-year academic performance test that is aligned with California’s Common Core State Standards.

Percentage of Fifth Graders Meeting or Exceeding Math Standards

San Bernardino County and California, 2015-2018
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Source: California Department of Education, DataQuest

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Slightly more than one-quarter of fifth graders in San Bernardino County met or exceeded mathematics standards:

  • Overall, 27% of fifth graders in the county met or exceeded standards for mathematics in 2018, higher than in 2017, when 24% met or exceeded standards.
  • This is lower than the California average (36% of students met or exceeded math standards) and all counties compared, including Orange (47%) San Diego (43%), Los Angeles (35%), and Riverside (32%).

Fifth grade math performance varies by sub-group:

  • 64% of Asian students met or exceeded math standards, compared to 39% of White students, 22% of Latino students and 13% of African American students.
  • Only (20%) of students who are economically disadvantaged and 6% of students who are classified as English Learners met or exceeded math standards.2
  • For children whose parents were not high school graduates, 15% met or exceeded standards.

Percentage of Fifth Graders Meeting Math Standards

San Bernardino County, 2017/18
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Note: Asian includes Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino. Other includes two or more races and American Indian or Alaska Native. Source: California Department of Education, DataQuest

The Importance of Mathematics for Child Outcomes

A growing body of research suggests that early math skills are a better predictor of later academic success than early literacy skills. In a widely cited study of large longitudinal data sets, University of California, Irvine professor Greg Duncan and colleagues found that in a comparison of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at kindergarten entry, “early math concepts, such as knowledge of numbers and ordinality, were the most powerful predictors of later learning.”

In a separate, large-scale longitudinal study conducted by Duncan and his colleagues for children in elementary school, the type of math knowledge most essential for children to know was fractions and whole-number division. The researchers found that mastering these two concepts were important predictors of students’ long-term learning and success in high school.

Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P.,et al. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428-1446;
Siegler, R. S., Duncan, G. J., Davis-Kean, P. E., Duckworth, K., Claessens, A., Engel, M., Susperreguy, M. I., & Chen, M. (2012). Early predictors of high school mathematics achievement.
Psychological Science 23(7), 691-697.

1Child Trends. (2012). Mathematics proficiency (www.childtrends.org/?indicators=mathematics-proficiency) 2Economically disadvantaged students include students eligible for the free and reduced priced meal program, foster youth, homeless students, migrant students, and students for whom neither parent is a high school graduate.