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SED releases spring assessment results

Aug. 1, 2016

The State Education Department released the results of the 2016 Grades 3-8 English language arts (ELA) and math tests which were administered in the spring.

As in the past, students' scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4 meant to indicate the degree of proficiency in the Common Core standards for the grade level. Scores at level 3-4 indicate proficiency (4 means that a student excels in the standards, while level 1 indicates a student is below proficiency).

The percentage of Schalmont students who scored proficient in ELA was 33 percent in 2016, down from 36 percent in 2015. In math, 44 percent of Schalmont students received a proficient score in 2016 compared to 42 percent in 2015.

In a press release, the SED stated: “While the content of the 2016 tests and last year’s tests are comparable and similarly rigorous, it is not possible to make direct comparisons of the 2016 results to prior years’ results because of changes to the tests this year. The 2016 results are valid and reliable indicators of student proficiency in the tested grades and subjects.”

Some of the changes SED made to the 2016 ELA and math exams that include: contracting a new test vendor, requiring greater teacher involvement with the creation of the exam; reducing the number of questions on every grade 3-8 ELA and math assessments; and allowing students who are productively working to complete their exams without being timed. In addition, SED released more test questions and earlier than in the past to support instruction

On the 2016 ELA assessment, 36 percent of Schalmont students scored proficient compared to 32 percent county-wide and 38 percent statewide.

On the 2016 math assessment, 44 percent of Schalmont students scored proficient, compared to 33 percent county-wide and 39 percent statewide.

“While we are pleased that we continue to show growth on our math assessments, we are obviously disappointed we cannot say the same for our ELA scores,” Schalmont Superintendent Carol Pallas said. “We are reviewing the data to gather information we can use moving forward to help our students be better prepared to achieve the level of excellence we strive for at Schalmont.”

Though improving student scores on state testing is part of the district’s five-year strategic plan, Pallas says she and the rest of the Schalmont staff also recognize these exams are only one measurement of student success.
“Student success can take many forms beyond assessment scores,” Pallas said. “We will continue to deliver each student a quality education and foster all manner of academic student achievement.”

Effects of Test Refusal

SED also released information on the number of students who refused the state exams. According to SED, 21 percent of eligible test-takers did not have “a recognized, valid reason for not participating,” compared to 20 percent in 2015.

In Schalmont, 33 percent of students refused the ELA test and 30 percent refuse the math exam, compared to 33 percent and 38 percent respectively in 2015.

Though the assessments do not factor into a student’s grades, they are a useful aspect in determining if a student needs additional assistance in math or ELA. They also help identify areas in which instructional strategies may need to be examined to better support students.

“When a high number of students refuse a test, results become skewed. This makes it difficult to get an accurate year-to-year comparison, which is vital for helping us pinpoint areas in which we can improve. This is necessary data required if we want to continue to enhance and elevate the education offered by our district and ensure students are on the path to career and college readiness,” Pallas said.