State test results mixed for grades 3-8

G ranville school officials are getting their first look at the 2011-2012 statewide English language arts and mathematics tests, and an initial examination indicates decidedly mixed results.

These are the tests taken by all students in grades three to eight. They are scored on a scale of one to four, and one of the main things state and local officials are looking for is the “proficiency score,” the total of the scores of three and four.

Superintendent Mark Bessen said that when he and his staff look at the scores, they do not simply compare the results from this year to previous years. They look at the specific classes, comparing this year’s eighth grade results with those from seventh grade last year and sixth grade the year before that.

“That tells me when the teachers have helped the kids grow,” Bessen said. “We look at them by grade, by teacher and by individual student. The state gives us the results in a manner where we can tear them apart. ”

Bessen said what he is looking for is a “value-added teacher,” one who consistently brings the students’ proficiency scores up from one year to the next. He said during the school year, all teachers from each grade will gather in the conference room in his office and go over each question on the test.

There were a couple of situations where Bessen saw what he wanted. The sixth-grade English scores were up from 51 percent when the students were fifth-graders to 62 percent this year. There were similar results in eighth grade, moving from 42 to 52, a jump of 10 points. The fifth-graders also gained on their English scores, but the seventh grade dipped 15.5 points and fourth grade was down 11.

In terms of math scores, fourth-grade students had a jump of 13 points, from 39 to 52.The eighth-graders were up 8.5 points, the seventh-graders were steady, sixth-graders dipped by 2, and fifth-graders were up 5.

 

Overall scores

Granville’s math average across all grades improved from 47 to 50.5. The English average this year was 48.3, just a tick down from last year’s 48.6.

Statewide, across all grade levels, the English average was 55 and the math was 65. Last year’s English mark was 53, and last year the statewide math score was 63.

That puts Granville’s English score 7 percent below the state average and the math score 14.5 lower. In 2010-2011, Last year, the English average was 4 points below the state and the math average over 16.

 

Further analysis

In looking directly at the grade results, Grade 7 math was up from 40 percent at proficiency to 55, and Grade 8 English went from 43 to 52. Grade 7 English rose slightly, from 42 to 43.

The only negative numbers on this year’s junior high tests were in Grade 8 math, where the proficiency level dropped from 50 to 39.

Washington County’s English results ranged from a high of 62 in sixth grade to a low of 51 in third grade.

The math results in the county saw 66 percent of sixth-graders meet or exceed proficiency. The low mark there was 55 percent in eighth grade.

 

Moving ahead

Bessen said all principals have received the data and will present the test scores at the Aug. 27 Board of Education meeting.

There are already changes in place for the 2012-2013 school year that will impact preparation for testing. Jane O’Shea is the new principal at Granville Elementary, where the fourth, fifth and sixth grades are. Diane Dumas, formerly the GES principal, will be at Mary J. Tanner and the third-graders will be there with her. Dumas has expertise in teaching reading.

O’Shea has a great deal of special education training, and Camille Harrelson has started as the new director of special education.

Bessen had one additional comment on the state testing. He pointed out that Granville uses other inventories and tests to evaluate reading and other skills.

“Our reading comprehension scores are high on those inventories, however we want to see it on the state tests.

“It’s not transferring to the state tests,” he added. “I see kids coming out of kindergarten walking [while out of school] reading, but I can’t go jumping up and down. We need to see it on the state te

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