BOE Hears Student Test Data Trends Report

Published: January 11, 2019 at 07:00 am


After hearing test data reports in October, the Board of Education heard a presentation on data trends at its meeting on January 8.

Following up on the reports from October and a question from a board member for more information, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jean Evans Davila said she created tables for the school board to see trend data, “side-by-side, year-by-year.” She presented three tables to the school board: one outlined Smarter Balanced English Language Arts (ELA)/literacy scores, one shared Smarter Balanced math scores, and one showed results from ELA and math Connecticut SAT School Day scores.

Ms Davila presented all of the data from the Smarter Balanced test, Connecticut SAT School Day, and Advanced Placement tests at the board’s October 16 meeting.

For the Smarter Balanced tables shared at the January 8 meeting, Ms Davila explained she compiled “rough cohort data” to follow grade-level groups performing yearly, using the percentage of students who scored a three or four on the test, which is considered “on track,” according to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Starting with third graders in 2015, she followed how they performed on the Smarter Balanced test yearly until 2018. The table also showed how fourth through eighth graders performed. The third grade tested with 75 percent achieving scores of three or four, and after two years of upticks, tested at 72 percent in 2018 as sixth graders.

When assessing the Smarter Balanced ELA/literacy data, Ms Davila said she asks herself what the district is focusing on in ELA. She spoke to the board about programs like the Reader’s Writer’s Workshop and annual Summer Institute sessions for teachers. New ELA curricula is also being worked on now, according to Ms Davila.

For the Smarter Balanced math table, Ms Davila again arranged the rough cohort data together in grade levels. Following the third grade again, in 2015, the group scored 67 percent, and after some lower scoring years, had 70 percent of students score a three or four in 2018.

Ms Davila said all schools are, “creating consistent protocols for the use of assessment data to inform student intervention in literacy and math.”

For the Connecticut SAT School Day results, Ms Davila pointed out the different percentages of students who performed at three and four levels from 2016 through 2018. The Connecticut SAT School Day is taken by high school students each year.

“The good news... We do, as you should demand and expect, perform higher than the state. When they experience a dip, we sometimes experience a dip, and so on,” said Ms Davila, before sharing an overview of student programs offered in ELA and math in high school.

Ms Davila also shared news about curricula teachers are working on across the district.

“In looking at the trend data, I can say it is a start as we move toward our second year of a more robust use of data and more consistent use of communication with our [administrative] team and district level meetings,” said Ms Davila.

Responding to questions and concerns regarding investments and corresponding scores from board members, Ms Davila said the district has reacted to the test scores by making sure district programs are being implemented correctly, she spoke about programs offered in the district, and she said the districts is making sure interventions are implemented correctly.

Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue said she feels the district is just starting to address rigor in its programs, like Reader’s Writer’s Workshop.

Special Education Action Steps

Also at the board meeting, Dr Rodrigue shared an update regarding action steps being developed in response to the district’s recent special education self-study. At its meeting on December 18, the Board of Education heard a report from consultants Gail Mangs and Maria Synodi, who were hired to conduct the special education review following parent complaints. The special education consultants’ recommendations included further district review in areas of Individual Education Plan (IEP) identification and implementation; current practices and the distribution of information to parents; professional development; staffing levels, staff utilization, and work loads; and developing district-wide policies, procedures, and practices around planning, leading, and participating in Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings.

Dr Rodrigue said the district will be continuing its work on action steps over the next couple of weeks. She shared a copy of the proposed action steps with board members, but Dr Rodrigue said the district wants time to further complete those steps with educators and parents before making them public.

Reminding the board members that some resources have already been instituted, she said a special education teacher was hired at Newtown Middle School and professional development is currently taking place.

“This will be, I think, an ongoing portion of our budget,” said Dr Rodrigue.

The superintendent also said everyone in the district is accountable for the action steps.

“We are taking this very seriously,” she said.

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