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Math Scores Show Substantial Increase on Winter NWEA Tests; Reading and Language Usage Scores Also Improve

posted Mar 8, 2012, 1:13 PM by Todd West

Winter 2012 NWEA Results Report (click link to view report)

We completed the Winter 2012 NWEA administration before February vacation. We view the fall and winter administrations as “progress monitoring” assessments which let us check in on our progress towards our school-wide goal. Our school-wide goals for basic skills achievement is based on the spring NWEA scores, which can be considered the “benchmark” assessment. We think of the fall and winter results as opportunities to fine tune our efforts based on where individual students are at.

The test results are reported in a consistent “stop light” pattern for reporting at both the whole school and grade level based on two clearly defined (and consistent) thresholds: the “intervention benchmark” which equates to the end of 8th grade mean score and “proficiency benchmark” which equates to the end of 10th grade mean score. The general idea is that students working below the intervention benchmark have skills that are not at the high school level and need some sort of intervention to get them there. Students scoring above the proficiency benchmark have skills that are at least at the 11th grade level and should be prepared for the end of high school and collegiate work. Students in-between the two benchmarks would benefit from classroom based literacy and numeracy strategies to improve their skills (especially 9th and 10th grade students, since that is “grade level”). Here is a page-by-page summary of the results report:

Page 1: The first paragraph describes which students were tested. We have honed in on this testing plan after about two years of trial and error, but we feel that our current plan does a good job of balancing the competing needs of getting useful data on student progress without over testing the students. The rest of the narrative on the page as well as the charts shows how all students in the school performed on the Winter 2012 NWEA in comparison to the intervention benchmark.

Each bars shows what percentage of students in the school scored below the intervention benchmark (red), between the intervention benchmark and the proficiency benchmark (yellow), and above the proficiency benchmark (green). We have scores from Spring 2010 and 2011 to compare to results from this fall and winter. It should be noted that the Spring 2011, Fall 2011, and Winter 2012 scores represent about 99% of the same students. You will notice that the percentage of students clearing the intervention benchmark has increased significantly in math and slightly in reading and language usage since last spring. The blue lines on each graph indicate our end of year goal in each of the three tests. Having the top of the yellow bar go above the blue line would signify meeting our school improvement goals for this year.

Page 2 & 3: This pages shows the percentage of students in each grade who scored below the intervention benchmark (red), between the intervention benchmark and the proficiency benchmark (yellow), and above the proficiency benchmark (green), basically breaking the chart on the first page down by grade level. Improvement could be defined as shrinking and eventually eliminating the red part of each bar for 9th and 10th grade and the red and yellow parts of each bar for 11th and 12th grade.

There are some general trends in data. First, we have a pretty consistent trend of an increasing number of students improving their scores in math. In fact, we are pretty close to meeting the goal for math skills that we set in our School Improvement Action Plan at the start of the year. Reading and especially language usage scores, however, are not increasing as fast. There has been slight growth in both areas since the start of the year, but we are definitely not on pace to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves at the start of the year.

It is also worth looking at the senior's math scores, which are in a steady decline. I suspect that a substantial part of that decline is related to students who are not enrolled in a math class senior year (our graduation requirements only require three years). This spring I will propose changing the graduation requirements to require all students to at least complete Algebra II in order to align with the Common Core State Standards. That would require most students to take math all four years. However, it might also be useful to require a math class all four years a student is in high school, which echos the recommendations for the Senate Education Committee in its proficiency-based diploma bill.

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