2017-10-25 / Front Page

County schools’ state assessment scores drop but show spots of growth

by Kate Evans


School percentages are based on all students’ proficiencies as measured by the 2017 and 2016 West Virginia General Summative Assessment and the West Virginia Alternate Summative Assessment, according to the West Virginia Department of Education website ZOOM data dashboard. Third through eighth grade and 11th grade students took the state reading and math assessment exams in 2017. Third through 11th grade students took the reading and math assessments in 2016. School percentages are based on all students’ proficiencies as measured by the 2017 and 2016 West Virginia General Summative Assessment and the West Virginia Alternate Summative Assessment, according to the West Virginia Department of Education website ZOOM data dashboard. Third through eighth grade and 11th grade students took the state reading and math assessment exams in 2017. Third through 11th grade students took the reading and math assessments in 2016. Morgan County Schools showed mostly declines in math and English Language Arts proficiency scores on the 2017 West Virginia General Summative Assessment exams. Test scores at a few schools and grade levels showed major improvement.

School Superintendent Erich May reported on the county math and English Language Arts state test scores for grades three-eight and grade 11 at the October 17 school board meeting. He said some data was good news and some wasn’t. There were a few bright spots in student achievement, but overall reading scores need work, science and math needs more work, May noted.


This chart shows how Morgan County, neighboring counties and the state as a whole fared on the 2017 West Virginia General Summative Assessments, according to information on the West Virginia Department of Education website ZOOM dashboard. Fifth, eighth and 10th graders took the state science assessment exams in 2017 while fourth, sixth and 10th graders took the science assessment in 2016. This chart shows how Morgan County, neighboring counties and the state as a whole fared on the 2017 West Virginia General Summative Assessments, according to information on the West Virginia Department of Education website ZOOM dashboard. Fifth, eighth and 10th graders took the state science assessment exams in 2017 while fourth, sixth and 10th graders took the science assessment in 2016. Approximately 43% of county students in grades three-eight and grade 11 were at or above mastery in English Language Arts as shown by the 2017 state assessment exams, he said. Some 28% of grade three eight and grade 11 students were at or above mastery in math. Around 34% of students in grades five, eight and 10 were at or above mastery in science.

A three-year trend chart showed a decline in English Language Arts scores, a slight dip in science after an increase and a rise in math proficiency.

High school eleventh graders took the state math and reading exams this spring while ninth, 10th and 11th graders took the exams in 2016. Fifth, eighth and 10th graders took the 2017 state science assessment exams while fourth, sixth and 10th graders took the 2016 science assessment.

Reading proficiency fell at every county school except Berkeley Springs High School. Warm Springs Middle School decreased two percent in reading proficiency while scores at other schools dropped five percent to 12%.

The middle school’s math proficiency remained about the same while Paw Paw Elementary dipped two percent and Warm Springs Intermediate decreased four percent in math. Pleasant View Elementary dropped 10% in math proficiency.

May said that eighth grade math scores are troubling. Eighth grade math proficiency fell from 26% in 2016 to 17% in the 2017 exams.

Successes

Seventh grade math proficiency scores nearly doubled from 21% in 2016 to 41% in 2017 and seventh grade English Language Arts scores increased from 43% to 54%. Tenth grade science proficiency scores went up from 26% in 2015 to 32% in 2016 and rose to 42% proficiency in 2017.

Berkeley Springs High School English Language Arts proficiency scores jumped from 49.9% in 2016 to 63.2% in 2017. The high school’s math proficiency rose from 17.28% to 20.65%. Paw Paw High School math proficiency more than doubled from 13.75% last year to 27.78% this year.

Attendance

May said that Morgan County Schools was the highest in the state in school attendance for the second year in a row due to the efforts of Secondary Education and Attendance Director Russell

Penner, Prevention Resource Officer Kevin Barney, school principals and teachers.

Strengths, best practices

May said staff is looking for strengths and weaknesses in the data and ways to replicate the strengths and dissolve the weaknesses. Efforts include listening to teachers and creating opportunities for collaborations between schools. Staff focus is on curriculum, instruction and benchmark assessments.

“We’re working to promote best practices in the classroom. That happens on professional development days, in faculty meetings and team meetings. That involves leadership from principals and also our directors of elementary and secondary education,” May said.

Curriculum, strategies

May said a new elementary science curriculum called FOSS (Full Option Science System) is being implemented this year for kindergarteners through fifth graders. It offers a lot of hands-on science and small group projects.

MobyMax, a new online math and reading remediation program, is being implemented at the middle school along with iPads. All grades will have access to this technology.

“Technology has the power to put kids at the center of their learning. It’s also great for differentiating instruction because these programs can determine where the students are and move them up from there,” he said.

Steps being taken

May said that steps to address student achievement included the renewal of the PASS program at Berkeley Springs High School, strategic planning, technology, a math curriculum review, the new FOSS science curriculum and professional development, which has already included teacher training in the new science curriculum and STAR assessments.

More state test changes will occur in the spring, including the move to SAT exams for all juniors and the new American Institute for Research (AIR) assessments for grades three-eight.

State legislation required the state Department of Education to adopt new West Virginia General Summative assessments.

May felt that SAT exams for juniors were a positive change that could motivate more students to apply for college. SAT exams are used as college entrance exams.

Other data

May’s presentation also included reading and math proficiency data for first and second graders from STAR Math and Running Records assessments, pre-kindergarten alphabetic awareness and numerical operations proficiency, discipline and attendance data and middle school/high school failure statistics.

First graders showed a lot of growth in reading through end-of-the-year Running Records assessments, May said. First and second graders had considerable math growth according to STAR assessments. End-of-the year data indicated major pre-kindergarten growth in alphabetic awareness and numerical operations.

Apathy trend

May expressed concerns about possible decreases in the number of kids signing up for extracurricular activities, clubs and sports, which potentially impacts student achievement. He’s having directors look into the numbers. May felt mentoring students is important.

“Motivation continues to be an important concern for all of us in public education. We see apathy in some students’ homework and tests; we also see it in extracurricular and social arenas. We think one-on-one relationships are an important way to attack apathy,” May said.

“We also need to sell the connection between school and life. We need students to see that their performance in school will impact their future and their quality of life for years to come. That’s where parents come in --helping kids understand the importance of education,” May said.

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