For the first time, the Whitehall Central School District is exceeding expectations in all levels of state testing.
At the June 15 board meeting, elementary school Principal David St. Germain and high school Dean of Students Gregg Chappell announced scores on the state English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests for grades 3-8 were all above the state minimum levels.
“Math has been a specific concern that we have had, and we were identified as a school in need of help,” said Superintendent James Watson. “This year, while our elementary continued to improve, there are significant changes to the seventh- and eighth-grade results.”
In the seventh grade, the school scored an overall mark of 184, up from a 167 for the 2007-08 school year and from 142 in 2005-06. The seventh grade also scored a 188 on the math testing, up from 163 one year ago and from 121 in 2005-06. Individually, 84 percent of seventh-grade students scored either a 3 or 4 on their ELA tests, while 88 percent of students scored a 3 or 4 on their math testing, both up from 54 and 43 percent in 2005-6, respectively.
In the eighth grade, the class scored a 184 on the ELA test, with 84 percent of students scoring a 3 or 4. The results are up from 145 with 53 percent of students scoring a 3 or 4 in 2007-08 and from an overall score of 137 with 51 percent of students scoring a 3 or 4 in 2005-06. The eighth grade also scored a 176 on the state math testing with 80 percent of students scoring a 3 or 4, up from a 143 with 53 percent of students scoring well in 2007-08 and an overall score of 134 with 42 percent of students scoring well in 2005-06.
“Last year we started a school program to work on these results and had a building score of 163,” said Chappell. “This year, it was 188. Last year, we were extremely happy, but this year both of the classes have vastly improved, the eighth grade even more so.”
Chappell also said that the 2008-09 school year was the first time that the seventh- and eighth-grade classes met the state minimums in all four testing areas.
“For the first time, the seventh- and eighth-grade are both above the state minimums, so we are really looking good,” said Chappell. “We are definitely ready for the tests this year.”
In the elementary school, grades 3-6 all tested at above state levels, with the only decreases over last year’s scoring happening in third-grade ELA and math testing.
In third grade ELA, the total score dropped from 171 in 2007-08 to 169 in 2008-09, a difference of two points but still nine points ahead of the state minimum levels. Third grade math also dropped from 195 to 186, also still above the state minimum of 160.
In the fourth grade, math testing numbers jumped dramatically from 151 (nine points below state minimums) in 2007-08 to a 174 in 2008-09. Fourth grade ELA scores also improved from 165 to 167 over the same time.
The fifth grade saw double-digit increases in each of its tests, jumping from a 182 to a 192 in the ELA scores and from a 177 to a 191 in the math scores over the past two school years.
In the sixth grade, ELA scores increased from 174 to 180 over the past two years, while math scores also increased from 181 to 190.
“We have some classroom teachers that scrutinize what needs to be done,” said St. Germain. “The morning program teachers have been working very hard to help the students and the new reading and math programs that we have started to use are more in line with what the state tests.”
“We are pleased with the direction that we are going in but we still have more work to do and we are not yet satisfied with where we are at,” said Watson. “This has been a collaborative effort to get to where we are, and we will continue to keep working to improve the education of these students.”
St. Germain said that his goal for the 2009-10 school year was to make sure that all students were testing out at a level 3 or 4.
“We are going to be working on getting those few students that we need to above the bar for the next school year,” he said. “This is a positive position to be in, now. We are working on fine tuning and there are no big holes or problems. We can just work to make a good program better.”