The results are in and Katonah-Lewisboro students scored above-average on state standardized tests. But with new proficiency levels in place, students received lower scores—in many cases ten percentage points or more—on English, math and science assessments.
The new formula for determining “cut scores” was retroactively applied to assessments taken by students in grades three through eight during the 2009-10 school year, said Alice Cronin, assistant superintendent for instruction, in her presentation at the May 5 school board meeting.
“It’s as if you said at the end of a baseball season, the fence at the back of the field should be ten feet back from where it is, and a homerun is not a homerun anymore with the new fence,” she said. “That said, even with the new cut scores, our kids did really well.”
The state education department , after reviewing studies relating poor performance on the tests to lower Regents scores. The state education commissioner said at the time that if students achieve proficiency levels earlier in their school careers, they’ll be on track for successful high school and college careers.
Though each grade saw a drop in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards (achieving a 3 or 4 on a four-point scale), students in grades three through eight students outperformed their peers across the state in English, math and science.
Overall, students fared better on the math tests, with more than 80 percent of the students in grades four through eight scoring proficient or advanced. In third grade, however, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards dropped from nearly 100 percent in 2009 to 74 percent in 2010. Statewide, 59 percent of students received a 3 or 4 on the math test.
In English, the results were varied. For example, the percentage of third-grade students scoring a 3 or 4 dropped from 94 percent to 79 percent from year-to-year; statewide, 55 percent of third-graders scored proficient or advanced. In sixth-grade, the percentage dropped from 97 percent to 74 percent. Statewide, 55 percent of 6th graders scored as well.
Science scores remained consistent. In fourth grade, 98 percent of students received a 3 or 4 on the exam in 2009 and in 2010. In 8th grade, the numbers went up, from 91 to 92 percent meeting or exceeding standards.
At the high school, students are required to take five Regents exams to receive a high school diploma, and more than 90 percent of students passed each test, with almost half of the students tested passing with distinction, said Cronin.
In addition, John Jay students scored higher than the state and national averages on the SAT; their average score was a 1740, compared to 1461 in New York State and a 1509 nationwide. The SAT Subject Test results were also higher than the district’s three-year averages. Of the 369 students taking 746 Advanced Placement exams, students scored a 3 or better on 81 percent of the exams.
A copy of the K-L state report card and the district’s presentation on its results is posted with this story.
The school board discussed the results and approaches to improving scores—or whether the district should focus on different assessments altogether. Comparisons from previous years and to other similar districts are difficult because of the evolving assessments, which will continue to change between now and 2014, said Cronin.
“We value part of this assessment—but an open-ended assessment will capture more of what a student knows. The districts that go after getting students to level four—it’s a lot of test prep, a lot of drill. If that’s what it takes, I’d rather get a 3 and give them really enriching experiences – or do both, if we can. But we’ll have to see what the new assessments down the road will look like,” she said.
Board member Mark Lipton asked Cronin to discuss the new state-mandated Response-to-Intervention program in relation to assessments.
Next year’s school budget funds one full-time position district-wide to implement RTI, which includes assessments of all students three times per year and provides needed academic supports.
“We’ll get data from that that teachers can really use,” said Cronin.
Software will help the district track students over time, she added. The district will look at a range of ways to help students, from talking with individual teachers, to cluster placement of children with similar needs. At the same time, the district plans to focus on the and engage staff in looking at other ways—beyond state tests—to evaluate performance.