CMS Students 2013-14 Scores Show Growth, Proficiency

Dailypost130 370

The scores are in, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg School students beat the odds with proficiency gains on End-of-Course (EOC) and End-of-Grade (EOG) tests for the 2013-14 school year. And nearly 83 percent (130) of the district’s schools met or exceeded expectations for academic growth. Keep in mind this is the second year of test scores since End-of-Year tests were adjusted for Common Core standards, meaning more rigorous tests that require better comprehension of the subject matter.

Another variable to this year’s scoring is a new grading scale for state tests that ranges from Level 1 (the lowest) to Level 5, replacing a prior system of grading that had only four levels. End-of-Grade tests are given to students in grades three through eight. The tests are given in reading and math in grades three through eight, and in science in grades five and eight. The scores are reported as achievement levels, with a range of 1 through 5. Achievement Level 3 is considered to show proficiency but not on track to be college- or career-ready. Levels 4 and 5 are considered college- and career-ready. Levels 1 and 2 are considered below proficiency.

The earlier state scoring system set proficiency at Levels 3 and 4, with Levels 1 and 2 considered below proficient. Does that make the information diluted? Maybe, but overall CMS students were on track with growth and proficiency, but of course, with room to improve, particularly in reading. The composite scores for students scoring a Level 4 or 5 in grades three through eight declined to 45.4 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier. Scores increased in grades three and five but declined in the other tested grades. However, the CMS composite score for reading was still higher than the state composite score of 44.7 percent. Math scores in grades 3-8 rose from 46.4 to 48.3, and science scores in grades 5 to 8 rose stepped up from 53.5 to 59.7. So what’s this all mean?

It was to be expected that growth wouldn’t be huge in 2013-14 because of the new tests and curriculum. Frequently when state tests change, scores drop dramatically, so to see some growth is promising, in my opinion, and shows dedication of classroom teachers and students (though I still hope it’s not all about teaching to a test!). The demands of the assessments and the scores required to reach proficiency are now at a higher level (this we keep hearing and I don’t think it’s a bad thing).

I don’t like to base school or student success on percentages and test scores, and was happy to hear teachers speak at the press conference this morning about how they are using data to to create small group settings that help students who are struggling with particular concepts so that they can gain a mastery of skills. There is also a strategic focus on reading and literacy, and professional development for teachers in place to . I know, however, that testing and preparing for tests is so much a part of the system these days, but I like to meet educational leaders and teachers face-to-face to see the people dedicated to helping children. These people straddle a line: meet system goals while at the same time meeting student needs. It’s not easy. 

Please keep teachers in mind this school year, go visit your child’s school and keep up with what’s going on. And pay attention to what’s on the ballots this November. There are a lot of education issues that are politically charged … be aware!