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Members of the Shelby County Board of Education heard good and bad news in the reports about the results from its two key standardized testing programs that were delivered during Thursday’s meeting at Heritage Elementary.
News about the statewide KCCT test, reported last week, was almost all positive because each school and the district’s 2011 test results bested their own 3-year averages and state results.
But this fall’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing came with mixed results.
MAP is administered three times each year, and early in the summer district officials will be able to compare all three tests to see growth by school and individual throughout the school year.
On one hand, the tests showed the tremendous increases made by students who participated in the Summer Reading Academy in both elementary and secondary school.
But the tests also proved just how far Kentucky’s standards lag the rest of the country.
Although Shelby County is improving against the rest of the state, when matched against the national average with MAP scores (which include about 2.5 million students), the district shows anywhere from 40 to 80 percent below the average.
Fall MAP results
After reviewing the numbers, board member Doug Butler summed up the response as “rather deflating.”
“This is the most challenging way to look at MAP results, and it’s certainly the most incriminating way,” Superintendent James Neihof told the board. “What we hope to see here is if we’re adding value over time. These results show us that we’re not adding value at the level we want.”
More significantly, the results showed that as students were advancing, larger percentages of specific classes were continuing to fall below those standards as they advanced from 2009 until now.
One example focused on by the board showed that 60 percent of first-grade students at Heritage in the fall of 2009 were below the national norm. Those same students increased to 67 percent below in fall 2010, when they were second-graders, and then that percentage increased again, to 68 percent, as they became third-graders this fall.
“What this appears to show to me is that we lose a great deal of knowledge over the summer,” board chair Sam Hinkle said. “But doesn’t the national norm take that into account?”
Both Neihof and Susan Dugle, the district curriculum coordinator, both assured the board that it is taken into account with the norm is set.
“We knew when we started this that the measurement of MAP is more rigorous than the state standards,” Neihof told the board. “Just because we meet the state standards, it doesn’t mean we’re above the national average.”
The key now, the staff told the board, is to continue to see growth from now through the end of the year.
Summer school results
Not all the students struggled with lost knowledge during the summer. Test scores showed that many of the students that attended the Summer Reading Academy did just the opposite.
In the first year for students in secondary school, grades 7 and 9, the district saw quite a lot of improvement.
Of the 107 students enrolled in the program for those grades, 11 moved beyond their grade level in reading and 42 more moved up at least one grade level, with 22 moving multiple levels.
“We’re very pleased with our results in the first year,” said Kerry Fannin, director of secondary schools.
At the elementary school level 25 of 236 students improved one grade level or more with 26 more improving by more than half of one level. Nearly 73 percent of the students showed at least some improvement.
“We’re continuing to see improvement from the first year [last year],” said Cindy French, the director elementary schools.
Neither the elementary or secondary summer school programs were full, prompting the board to ask how they could increase participation in the program.
“I think, when the results are published, they’ll speak for themselves,” Fannin said.
Students are invited into the Summer Reading Academy, and space is limited to the students who are struggling the most, based on their MAP scores.
“We have discussed in the past, that if students are invited but parents choose not to have them attend, that retention would be the alternative,” Neihof said.
The board requested to have that topic brought up again as a presentation in the future.