On Aug. 29, School District 65 administrators presented snapshot reports on student achievement for the 2015-16 school year and the prior three years. The snapshots report progress in student achievement using four metrics that the School Board decided to use to measure progress under the District’s five-year strategic plan that was adopted in March 2015: 1) the percent of students meeting college readiness benchmarks (CRB) in reading and math; 2) the percent of students meeting expected growth targets; 3) the percent of students in the bottom quartile in reading and math; and 4) the percent of students, by subgroup, meeting CRB in reading and math.
Peter Godard, Chief Officer of Research, Accountability and Data, said the District made progress on its first three goals relating to overall student achievement. The results were mixed on the fourth goal.
The snapshots report on achievement using results on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, one using benchmarks and norms identified in 2011 and 2012, and a second using benchmarks and norms identified in 2015. Because the Board approved using the 2015 norms and benchmarks, this article only reports data using the 2015 norms and benchmarks.
The snapshots do not report results on the PARCC test. The District is scheduled to provide a more detailed achievement report later this fall.
% Meeting College Readiness Benchmarks
The snapshot reports the percentage of third- through eighth-graders who are on track to college readiness, using benchmark scores in reading and math identified for the MAP test in a 2015 Study conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association, the owner of the MAP test. A student who scores at the benchmark in reading or math is predicted to have a 50% chance of earning a B in a subject related to reading or math in freshman year of college.
On a nationwide basis, approximately 37% of the students taking MAP will meet the college readiness benchmarks in reading and 32% will in math.
The table below shows on a composite basis the percentage of District 65 third- through eighth-graders who were on track to college readiness in reading and math in the last four years.
The accompanying charts break down the data by race and income. They show, on a composite basis, the percentage of black, Hispanic, white, and low-income third- through eighth-graders at District 65 who are on track to college readiness in reading (Figure 1) and math (Figure 2). The charts show that the percentage of black and white students who are on track to CRB increased in the last year in reading; in math, the percentage of Hispanic students meeting CRB slightly increased.
In the 2015-16 school year, 35% of the District’s students were from low-income households. Almost 80 percent of the District’s black students come from low-income households, compared to less than 10 percent of white students.
% Making Expected Gains
One of the Board’s goals is that students meet “expected gains” on the MAP test. Conceptually, to make expected gains, a student must grow academically during a school year as much as or more than the average student in his grade level who started out at the same level. On a nationwide basis, approximately 50% of the students meet expected gains using this approach.
In addition, though, District 65 has added an extra criterion: a student’s gain must be greater than the sum of the standard errors on both the pre- and post-test scores.
The table below gives the percentage of District 65 third- through eighth-graders who made expected gains in math and reading in the last four years. The data shows there were declines between 2012-13 and 2013-14, but then significant increases in the next two years.
The data shows that the percentage of black, Hispanic, and white students who made expected gains is approximately the same.
% in the Bottom Quartile
The percentage of students in the bottom quartile decreased slightly in both reading and math in the last year. The table below gives the trends.
Mr. Godard said some good news was that the percent of eighth graders who scored below the 25th percentile dropped from 15% to 8% last year.
Superintendent Paul Goren said, “I want to just underscore our growth in expected gains and the decrease of children at or below the 25th percentile. … It’s really to the credit of the teachers and principals working with the curriculum and instruction staff.” He also said, “We can raise expectations for all children and we have the data that shows that. … There are a lot more questions in areas where we’re not making the progress we had hoped.”
Board member Richard Rykhus asked Assistant Superintendent of Schools John Price whether he had any hypotheses about why the percent of students meeting CRB in math dropped last year.
Mr. Price said one possibility is that there was an “implementation dip in our new Everyday Math,” adding that some teachers are “still moving into that implementation.” Mr. Price also said there is a question, “‘What areas of mathematical learning does MAP evaluate accurately and how well does that match with the areas of focus of our curriculum?’ MAP is good at evaluating some – not all – areas of mathematical growth. We will investigate both hypotheses.”
Board President Candance Chow said, “We will have work to do, but I believe this is a good position to be in, especially in year one of the strategic plan.”