English and math testing up from last year

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English and math testing up from last year

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 1:24pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The new math and English standardized test scores for Vermont were released today and showed better results in nearly every category versus last year. However, the state Education secretary is downplaying any apparent improvement because the testing is only in its second year and she wants to use the new scores as the baseline going forward. As they were last year, the English scores showed greater proficiency among Vermont students than the math scores, except for the youngest students, with the discrepancy generally growing over time.

Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe announced the statewide results from the 2015-16 Smarter Balanced Assessments, a set of computer adaptive English language arts and mathematics tests developed by a national consortium currently made up of 15 states, the US Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

These tests, which were administered this spring to students in grades three through eight and grade 11, provide results aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Over time, the results will provide teachers and parents with an increasingly reliable and accurate snapshot of how their children are performing in English Language Arts and Mathematics, and will offer community members throughout the state a common measure for evaluating the success of schools, both locally and statewide.

Vermont’s statewide results:

2016 Smarter Balanced Math Results

Total Proficient  and Above

Scale Score

2016 Smarter Balanced English Language Arts Results

Total Proficient and Above

Scale Score

Proficient Score

State Average

Proficient Score

State Average

Grade 3

55.84%

2436

2442

Grade 3

53.84%

2432

2438

Grade 4

49.89%

2485

2482

Grade 4

53.76%

2473

2477

Grade 5

43.31%

2528

2509

Grade 5

58.16%

2502

2515

Grade 6

40.94%

2552

2522

Grade 6

56.20%

2531

2539

Grade 7

46.04%

2567

2548

Grade 7

57.57%

2552

2562

Grade 8

43.87%

2586

2564

Grade 8

58.52%

2567

2580

Grade 11

37.76%

2628

2581

Grade 11

57.22%

2583

2598

“These scores are one measure by which we and our schools can assess the impact of our shared efforts to help students learn better,” Secretary Holcombe said. “The proficiency thresholds are intentionally ambitious and give us a baseline to track our progress moving forward.  Our children from more prosperous families continue to rank near the top nationally.  Our most vulnerable youth- those living in poverty, with disabilities, from marginalized populations and who speak English as a second language (see chart at end) - continue to have test scores that are on average lower than our general population. Although we hesitate to draw major conclusions from only one measure, we know that literacy and numeracy are first steps to improved life outcomes for all students.  Children can’t thrive independently in life beyond school if they can’t read, write and use mathematics. These results reinforce our commitment to finding strategies that will help us eliminate these gaps in achievement. If we raise the performance of our lower performing students, more students will graduate with the strong skills they need to create, innovate and power our Vermont businesses and economy into the future. “

Although this is the second year the Smarter Balanced Assessments have been administered in Vermont, the Agency of Education is encouraging schools to consider this year’s results as the baseline for determining progress over time.

“When we administered the Smarter Balanced tests for the first time last year, Vermont’s students and teachers had very little experience with taking tests on computer, “ said Michael Hock, Agency of Education Test Director.  “For that reason we want to treat the 2014-15 administration as a pilot test, and use those results with considerable caution.”

The test scores released today establish a baseline aligned with the Common Core standards, and as such, should not be compared to previous statewide test scores including the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced scores.  

The Smarter Balanced Assessments, which challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing and problem solving, are computer adaptive tests, administered online. Computer adaptive tests adjust the difficulty of the test question based on how a test taker responds to each successive question. If a student answers incorrectly, for example, the computer delivers a slightly easier question. If the student answers correctly, the next question is a bit harder. This process continues until the best possible prediction of a student’s ability is determined. This means very few children take a test that feels too hard or too easy. It also means the test can provide a more precise measure of what students can and cannot do.

Individual school data will be released at a press conference during the week of September 19, 2016. The Agency has compiled several tools to help the public interpret these results. For more information visit the AOE website.

MORE RESULTS