Test scores show improvement in elementary schools

Nye County School District officials presented the outcome of the district’s Criterion Referenced Testing and proficiency exams this week with some promising results.

The district uses the Northwest Education Association’s Measures of Academic Progress assessment to measure student growth within a year as well as year-over-year.

According to the district, the progress tests help teachers determine a student’s levels compared with national averages on the same tests.

The association recommends between 40-and-60 percent of the students should meet their growth target in a normal classroom setting for the school year.

School Intervention Director E.V. Visser advised the Board of Trustees that the results in academic growth in math and reading in classes kindergarten through eighth is encouraging.

“There were 27 math classes and 30 reading classes where it was less than 40 percent,” she said. “But there were 61 math classes and 55 reading classes that exceeded the 60 percent. Obviously to move our district forward and increase our proficiency, we need to have more students above that 60 percent and that means we are moving them further along.”

Visser also said the percentage of students who met their growth target in the lower grades were well above the recommendation set forth by the Northwest Education Association.

“All of the classes are at least at 40 percent,” she said. “We have a kindergarten and first grade that exceeded 60 percent. We are able to use the information to kind of identify classes where there’s really good instruction going on and identify classes where we need to look further and find out what’s preventing students from going as much as they can.”

When compared to last year’s Measure of Academic Progress, math and reading scores improved considerably.

The kindergarten math and reading growth rate in the first quarter of 2014 stood at 58.6 and 48.0 percent respectively, while first quarter 2015 numbers showed an improvement at 66.5 and 63.1 percent respectively.

Visser said progress among first grade students went beyond the association’s recommendation where reading and math growth in the first quarter of 2014 rose from 59.0 and 47.5 percent, to 67.3 and 50.4 percent respectively.

The 67.3 percent was the highest measured growth of all classes in the kindergarten through fifth grade levels.

“You can see that in almost all cases, growth in the winter of 2014 and winter of this year, there were increases in both math and reading,” Visser said. “I think that’s because we’re reporting growth to teachers and principals and they know that somebody’s going to look at the growth of the students in their classrooms and they are being more consistent and focused in their instruction.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kim Friel expanded on Visser’s statement by adding administrators can chart the progress of a particular student’s performance.

“The teachers are starting to look at that and can identify individual students,” she said. “It’s not a number or some percentage out there, but they are able to look at an individual and say ‘this is what I need to do for you.’ They can come up with a plan for that student to move them further from where they are and this data is very much helping with that.”

Nye County high school juniors and seniors are scheduled to take their tests next week.

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