Almost all tests scores improve for Greene County students

Greene County Schools curriculum director Karen Sandberg had good news to report to the board of education April 15 when she summarized the data from standardized testing during the current school year.

She led with her best news: “The first graders rocked the test,” she said. Ninety-five percent of this year’s first graders tested to be proficient at grade level in reading, and 94 are proficient in math. In actual numbers, that’s just four students not proficient in reading and five not proficient in math. There was no science score to report because the test was administered early enough in the year that science testing was not required.

“We had growth across most levels in all subjects across the district. That’s exciting to see,” Sandberg said.

There were three categories in which a class grew 14 percent in proficiency over last year. Scores showed 82 percent of this year’s second graders proficient in math, compared to 68 percent last year as first graders. In this year’s third grade, 86 percent tested as proficient in science, compared to 72 percent in second grade, and in this year’s eighth grade class, 92 percent tested as proficient in science, compared to 78 percent when they were in seventh grade. That 92 percent is the second highest science score of any class during the seven years for which Sandberg provided data. (The class of 2014 tested at 97.37 percent proficiency as 10th graders, then scored at 93 percent as 11th graders.)

Reading scores were up 12 percent for this year’s seventh graders, up from 67 proficient in sixth grade to 79 percent proficient in seventh grade.

Sandberg called the sixth grade scores “exciting,” explaining that across the state, scores dip in sixth grade. “We’ve been struggling with that a long time. Not only did they not dip this year, but they made a big jump. That was exciting to see,” she said. Comparing that group’s fifth grade scores last year to sixth grade scores this year, the students grew from 72 percent to 76 percent proficient in reading, from 85 to 88 percent proficient in science, and from 72 to 78 percent proficient in math.

Sandberg credited the efforts of the sixth grade teachers in developing cross-curricular units that emphasize literacy in all areas. “It looks like that is paying off,” she said.

The district did not avoid the fifth grade dip that has been the case for all seven years for which Sandberg provided data. In that time, only two scores did not drop as students moved from fourth to fifth grade. This year’s fifth graders, as compared to their scores last year, dropped from 73 to 68 proficient in reading, from 82 to 79 percent proficient in science, and from 82 to 70 percent proficient in math.

“The reading is a smaller drop this year than it has been in previous years and we are happy about that. We’ll continue to work on that grade level and are having conversations with that team about how we can decrease the dip even more and start to see some gains, including possibly also implementing some cross-curricular units,” Sandberg said in a follow up interview.  ​“The math drop is more significant, but we are working on implementing a new set of resources this year and of course, the higher you are in grade level, the more of the background/foundational pieces you have missed.  Again, we plan to sit down with this team and brainstorm ideas for how to address the dip by looking into item analysis data.”

Aside from the fifth grade, scores dropped in three other instances. In this year’s third grade class, 73 percent were proficient in math compared to 76 percent last year as second graders. In this year’s 10th grade class, 78 percent were proficient in science compared to 80 percent last year as ninth graders. This year’s 11th graders tested at 87 proficient in reading, compared to 89 percent proficient last year.

To see the graphic Sandberg provided to the board, click here: Test scores

The scores Sandberg showed the board are an aggregate of Jefferson-Scranton and East Greene scores for the years prior to the reorganization. They include all students, including those who have not attended school here for a full academic year.

The state Department of Education will look only at the scores for FAY (full academic year) students in determining if the school has met its goals for annual yearly progress (AYP). The scores of students who were not attending Greene County schools in February 2014 will not go into the state’s AYP determination. It is that determination that will be a factor in the elementary school’s current designation as a school in need of assistance, and in the “watch list” status of the middle school in reading and math and the high school in reading.

School board president Ashley Johnston commended the teachers’ work. “It definitely looks like all the extra effort, the tutoring after school, the PLC [professional learning community], is all paying off, going in the right direction. Thanks to all who have put in the extra time and energy.”

At the May meeting, Sandberg will provide test data showing students’ growth, not levels of proficiency. Some students test proficient but do not grow from grade to grade until they ultimately are not proficient, and other students go years not meeting the proficiency standard, but show growth and eventually do meet the standard, she said.

“As always, this is just one test, one day, and we use it as one piece of our overall assessment system to make adjustments for continuous system improvement and our overall vision for success for all,” Sandberg said.


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