South Callaway board learns about student testing

MOKANE, Mo. — Although much of Wednesday night’s South Callaway School Board meeting was devoted to praise of the district’s staff, district officials also spent time reviewing student performance.

Elementary counselor Cindy Jordan presented a report on the Terra Nova.

She explained the Terra Nova is a national test for first and second graders.

“It provides practice for standardized tests like the MAP and is used for educational planning,” Jordan said.

In South Callaway, last year’s first graders scored in the 73rd percentile — meaning, as Jordan explained, they did better than 73 percent of first graders nationwide — in reading; in the 80th percentile for math — “well above the national average,” Jordan noted; in the 93rd percentile for science; and in the 76th percentile for social studies.

“All of those are above the national average,” Jordan said.

Last year’s second graders scored in the 55th percentile for reading; the 63rd percentile for math; the 69th percentile for science; and the 70th percentile for social studies.

Although the second graders appear at first glance to have seen a big drop from the first graders, Early Childhood Learning Center Principal Jill Dunlap noted that it is harder to achieve a higher percentile at the second-grade level, while explaining that the national percentiles themselves are deceiving in regards to how students are actually doing.

“For me, I don’t necessarily look at that. What I care about is, do we have growth?” Dunlap said, noting that scale scores — or how each individual student performed on the test — is more important.

“Eighty-two percent of our kids grew from first grade to second grade, and 92 percent grew from second to third,” she said.

Mary Van Orden, director of curriculum and instruction, gave the board a brief preview of what to expect during the upcoming MAP Awards assembly, during which students who scored advanced and proficient on the state’s standardized test are recognized.

Van Orden said in English and language arts South Callaway will be handing out 69 advanced medals and 204 proficient medals; in math, 96 students scored at the advanced level and 210 at proficient; in science, 42 scored advanced and 119 at proficient; in social studies, 32 earned advanced medals and 43 proficient. In total, South Callaway will be handing out 815 MAP medals compared with 791 last year.

“We have a few fewer advanced medals, but we have more proficient, so we’re pulling kids up from basic, and that’s a good thing,” Van Orden said.

Middle school counselor Robbie Peterson also talked about MAP scores, briefly reviewing data for student scores in all four study areas before providing a closer look at the district’s progress.

Peterson said the school board had asked last year for a report tracking how students progress from year to year, so she presented such a report for English and language arts from .

Looking at this year’s junior class: In 2006, 21.2 percent scored advanced, 43.9 percent proficient, 28.8 percent basic and 6.1 percent below basic on the third-grade MAP test; in 2007, 18.5 percent scored advanced, 26.2 percent proficient, 44.6 percent basic and 10.8 percent below basic on the fourth-grade MAP test; in 2008, 11.8 percent scored advanced, 32.4 percent proficient, 47.1 percent basic and 8.8 percent below basic on the fifth-grade MAP test; in 2009, 7.1 percent scored advanced, 35.7 percent proficient, 51.4 percent basic and 5.7 percent below basic on the sixth-grade MAP test.

Peterson’s graph continued through to high school, where, in 2012, 17.1 percent of the class scored advanced, 44.3 percent scored proficient, 28.6 scored basic and 10 percent scored below basic on the English I End of Course exam; and in 2013, 4.9 percent scored advanced, 55.2 percent scored proficient, 25.4 percent scored basic and 4.5 percent at below basic on the English II End of Course exam.

She did the same for each class that takes the state tests, going back to last year’s third graders, with most of those classes showing fluctuation from year to year, but an increase in the number of students achieving proficiency through to 2013.

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