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Test scores disappoint district officials

Poor proficiency testing took center stage during a Nye County School District Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kim Friel was not pleased with what he saw as 40 percent of the students were not proficient according to the results presented.

“It tells me the proficiency scores are not doing very well,” he said. “In the overall picture, proficiency is less than 50 percent.”

Friel presented the results of the district’s Criterion Referenced Test (CRT) and proficiency exams to a lukewarm reception among a few of the trustees.

The tests must be administered in grades 3 through 8 in all public schools, and measure the students’ grade-level performance in math, science, writing and reading.

Trustee Harold Tokerude told the board he was confused after reviewing the results of the exams because the district’s testing procedures have changed as of late.

Trustee Robert Mobley said the Nevada State Board of Education approved transitioning to what’s known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) as the statewide Criterion Referenced Tests (CRTs).

He noted there are now two different proficiency tests created by two different agencies in the state.

“One of them is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and the other is called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)” he said. “Some states are PARCC but most states are SBAC and that is going to be the new standardized test.”

As a result, Mobley said the test results at present, are less than accurate.

Last year was the official rollout for the new national field test for SBAC.

Mobley said the district was fortunate to have a few students actually “test out” the brand new test.

He was disappointed with the results.

“They changed the parameters of the test a couple of years ago,” he said. “The way the state figured out what the test scores should be, were so elevated that it was nearly impossible for the students. In 2011, we were doing okay and in 2012 the scores were just screwy and our scores dropped by double-digit percentages. It was because the way the state changed the way they calculated the tests. Nevada is an SBAC state and it all comes down to common core. The SBAC totals don’t line up to the CRTs and we have that data,” he said. “That makes the overall appearance that the scores are lower than they should be but those kids never took the CRTs, they took the SBAC.”

Tokerude, meanwhile, told the board he believes students are being overwhelmed by the state’s testing policy.

“I’m not happy with all of this testing these kids are having to go through,” he said. “How they do on a certain day at a certain time and that tells me how they did for the year? I really don’t buy that.”

Friel suggested that the district has to follow the testing policies set forth by the Nevada Department of Education.

“There are many that do not disagree with you,” she said. “At this point, this is what we are assigned to do and so we are.”

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