Keith Dixon: Standardized test results a mixed bag locallyWe saw increases in proficiency for students receiving special education services and free or reduced-priced meals, as well as Hispanic, Asian, black and American Indian students.
By: Keith Dixon, Budgeteer News
At the beginning of July, the state released standardized test results.
These tests include the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAII), which are used to determine whether all students, especially those deemed “at-risk,” are making enough progress in reading and math to be proficient by 2014.
The tests also include the GRAD, results of which are used in part to determine whether students have enough proficiency in reading, writing and math to graduate.
In our school district, all grades met or outperformed state results in MCAII reading. The majority of grades saw increases in their test results, which is good: The bar gets raised every year, so students have to show growth every year in order to keep up with expectations.
Most importantly, we saw increases in proficiency for students receiving special education services and free or reduced-priced meals, as well as Hispanic, Asian, black and American Indian students.
In MCAII math, a little more than half the grades tested saw increases.
However, scores continue to be below the statewide test results.
In the GRAD writing, reading and math tests our district outperformed state results in writing and reading and was below state results in math. Our district increased results in all three areas which, again, is good news.
Now that we have the test results, we’ll share the data with our principals and teachers and work to identify every student in the district who needs more help to achieve a proficient level.
This fall we’ll implement district-wide interventions for those students.
The interventions were researched and identified by a team of community members, teachers and curriculum specialists, and a few months ago the school board approved restructuring the funds we receive to help at-risk students to provide financial support.
Interventions include data coaches, integration specialists, literacy coaches, extended days and school years and specialized curriculum materials, among others.
For math, we’ll also begin working with a new curriculum.
This adoption of a new curriculum is the culmination of a two-year process conducted by a committee that researched the best options and piloted the curriculum in several schools before making a recommendation to the school board.
In August, the state will use these test results to determine which schools and districts made “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP.
They’ll look at each school overall, but also at groups of students, including those from low-income households, students of color and students receiving special education services. These are groups that sometimes experience an achievement gap.
Each of those groups within a school, along with the entire school population, must show progress on the state tests to make AYP. Closing the achievement gap is important to our district.
We want every student to be successful and the interventions we implement this fall, along with a new math curriculum, should help us toward that goal.
Keith Dixon is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at 336-8752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.