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District Students Showing Achievement Improvements In Math, English Language Arts

Dan Loughran, an assistant schools superintendent, speaks to the Board of Education about student achievement on July 26.


Students in grades Kindergarten to 9 made good strides in math during the last school year, the Board of Education was told at its last meeting.

The students showed better growth during the 2017-18 school year than they had in the previous year, according to internal testing, the board was told at its July 26 meeting.

There were equally promising results in English language arts subjects for students in grades Kindergarten to 8, the board was told.

The breakdown was given to the board by Dan Loughran, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

A handful of assessment tools are used during the year to track student growth and ensure the students meet the district’s goal of increasing achievement during the year, Loughran said.

Using those tools, students were placed into one of four achievement categories: two or more grade levels below where they should be, one grade level below, at grade level  and above grade level, Loughran said.

The focus for the year was on students in grades Kindergarten to 2 and 9th Grade Algebra 1 students, Loughran said.

“We wanted to focus on those foundational years for obvious reasons,” he said. “If we set a great foundation our kids will achieve more and more throughout the year.”

In 9th Grade math, Loughran said the district wanted to make sure that more students than last year passed the course.

“We noticed many of our 9th Graders weren’t passing algebra on the first try, so we made some improvements to help more of our Grade 9 algebra students pass on the first try,” he said.

Those efforts paid off, Loughran said. During the 2017-18 school year, 86 percent of 9th Graders passed Algebra 1, he said. That increased to 92 percent of 9th Graders this past school year, he said.

There was also progress in math demonstrated by students in grades Kindergarten to 8, he said.

In the 2016-17 school year, 43 percent of students in grades Kindergarten to 2 demonstrated a full year of growth in the subject, Loughran said. That percentage increased to 56 percent in the 2017-18 school year, he said.

A greater percentage of students in grades Kindergarten to 8 were achieving at their grade level in math by the end of the 2017-18 school year than at the beginning, Loughran said.

An average of 30 percent of elementary school students were achieving at or near a level equal to mid-year in their grade level in math at the beginning of the year, he said. By the end of the year, the portion of elementary school students achieving at or near a level equal to mid-year in their grade level in math jumped to 56 percent.

Additionally, a higher percentage of township students in grades 1,2,3,4,7 and 8 demonstrated proficiency in math on the spring diagnostic assessment tests than did students at the national level, he said.

Township Kindergartners and 5th Graders slightly under-performed their cohorts at the national level, and 6th Graders performed the same, he said.

The percentage of students who began the 2017-18 school year performing at two or more grade levels below where they should be in math decreased by the end of the school year in grades 2 through 8, Loughran said.

The most dramatic changes in that group occurred in 3rd Grade, with a 23 percent drop; Kindergarten, with a 22 percent drop, and 5th Grade, with a 20 percent drop, he said.

“We’re really proud of the progress of our math students,” he said. “We definitely have a long way to go, but that’s a good sign.”

The one-year achievement picture in English language arts was good as well, according to Laughran’s statistics.

“Last year we made a conscientious effort to increase the percentage of students who grew by a full grade level of achievement by the end of the year,” he said. “Many were getting three quarters of a year and half a year. So we increased professional development, showed our teachers how they could use the platform better.”

The district set a goal that 55 percent of students in grades Kindergarten to 2 would achieve a full year or more in English language arts, he said.

“We achieved that,” he said.

In fact, slightly more than 56 percent of those students met that benchmark, according to Loughran’s statistics.

In the Fall of the 2017-18 school year, an average of 36 percent of the township’s students in grades Kindergarten to 8 were performing at or near a level equal to mid-year in their grade in reading, according to Loughran’s statistics. By the Spring of the year, the average portion of the elementary student body performing at or near a level equal to mid-year in their grade level in reading jumped to 61 percent.

“That means a full grade level or more was achieved by those students,” he said.

An average of 36 percent of the township’s elementary students were reading at their grade level, as identified by the Spring diagnostic assessment, according to Loughran’s statistics. That compares to an average of 37 percent of elementary students nationally, according to the statistics.

“We’re in the neighborhood for Kindergarten, all the other grade levels were right there,” Loughran said. “We believe that’s going to be even closer in future years.”

Similarly to math results, the percentage of district students in grades 2 to 8 that started the 2017-18 school year performing two or more grade levels below where they should be decreased during the year.

An average of 57 percent of students in grades 2 to 8 were under-performing at the start of the school year, while an average of 29 percent were by the end of the school year, according to the statistics.

In teh coming year, Loughren said, the district would continue to focus on grades Kindergarten to 2 in English language arts and math, and would also focus on 5th Graders and students in grades 6-8.

“We’re moving into seven elementary schools, so the challenge is to make sure we are consistent and rigorous in our instruction and make sure our teachers make a good transition into those schools, and similarly, we have two campuses for our middle school, so we;re looking to achieve comparable, rigorous and high quality instruction in both middle schools,” he said.

 

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