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DOE Releases Three Testing and Accountability Reports
Gendron cites usefulness of data from national math test, Adequate Yearly Progress report, and high school test in providing targeted assistance to students
October 21, 2009
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education released three separate reports Thursday with the results of a national mathematics test, the state’s high school test in reading, mathematics and science, and the federally required Adequate Yearly Progress report for all public schools.
Education Commissioner Sue Gendron said the results underscore the importance of using statewide and local data to inform instruction. “At the state level we need to dig deeper into the data to learn what systems of teaching are working well for which students and where the state needs to provide more supports,” Gendron said. “And at the local level, teachers should use the results to identify where individual students are in need of additional assistance in meeting standards.”
Noting that state data systems have improved vastly in the past three to four years, Gendron said, “We are able to compile student-specific learning data which, in conjunction with the daily observations and measurements of teachers in the classroom, can help teachers quickly identify what each student needs to be successful, such as tutoring or different learning approaches.”
NAEP: Maine Students Score Near Top on National Math Test
Even while diversifying the pool of students taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics test, Maine continued to perform higher than most states in this year’s testing, and the state was able to maintain the same test scores as the last time students took the test two years ago.
Maine’s scores in both grades 4 and 8 were the same as last year’s scores, even as Maine tested a more diverse sample of students. Through the efforts of the Maine Department of Education’s NAEP coordinator and NAEP field staff in the state, the percentage of students excluded from the test was reduced by about half in Grade 4 and by more than half in Grade 8.
Maine fourth graders scored 244, compared to the national average 239, with only four states scoring higher than Maine. In the eighth grade, Maine students scored 286 compared to the national average 282, with only eight states scoring higher than Maine.
The National Assessment Governing Board, which makes policy decisions for the NAEP test, asked all NAEP state coordinators and field staff to focus on decreasing the number of students who are excluded from taking the NAEP. In the past, a disproportionate number of limited English and special needs students were simply excluded from taking NAEP assessments, even though they were able to participate in the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) test. The reduction by all states of the “exclusion rate,” furthers the goal of creating a test that truly allows comparison among states for the purpose of identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
The NAEP is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history. Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time.
“This confirms what we have seen for several years – we are still doing better than most states, but we would like our NAEP scores to start moving up again,” said Education Commissioner Sue Gendron. “Recent evidence on state tests shows us moving again. I am especially pleased that we have greatly increased the percentage of students participating in the test. It gives a truer picture of how we are doing.”
In fourth grade math, 45 percent of students performed at or above the proficient level, compared to 39 percent nationally. In the eighth grade, 35 percent of students performed proficient or higher, compared to 32 percent nationally. Black students in Maine had an average score that was 17 points lower than that of white students in grade 4, and 27 points lower in grade 8, a gap that Commissioner Gendron said was unacceptable.
“It is vitally important that we not only improve our overall achievement, but that we do so for all students – special education, English language learners, minorities, male and female,” Gendron said. She said that the Department is working with school districts on systems of interventions to identify students who are having difficulty meeting a particular standard or standards, and to provide them immediate, targeted assistance.
A selected sample of fourth and eighth grade students (about 5,400) from across the state took the NAEP mathematics test from January through March of this year. The National Center for Education Statistics will release the results of the reading and science tests in January 2010. NCES releases statewide results only for grades 4 and 8; it releases no results at the school or district level because the NAEP tests only a representative sample of students in each state.
AYP: Maine Reports Progress to USDE
Nearly two-thirds of Maine’s public schools met targets for annual progress in the percentage of students meeting standards in both reading and mathematics in 2008-09, with another 17 percent meeting the targets in one of those subjects. But 115 schools did not meet targets in either reading or mathematics. The annual progress results are part of the annual release of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results, a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
To make annual progress, a school’s students must meet academic, test participation and attendance/graduation targets. The targets must be met by the student population as a whole, and also in eight subgroups – students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and five ethnic groups. To meet the academic targets for 2008-09, schools with students in grades 3 to 8 had to show at least 58 percent of students proficient in reading and 50 percent in math; schools with students in grade 11 must show 64 percent of students proficient in reading and 43 percent in math.
To make annual progress in 2008-09, schools also had to show a participation level in accountability testing of at least 95 percent in each category and average daily attendance of at least 91 percent in grades 3 through 8 for all subgroups. For high schools, a graduation rate of 75 percent or greater was required.
In an effort to clarify AYP reporting, Maine this year has separated reporting on “annual progress” – whether or not schools met targets in reading, math, participation, and attendance/graduation – and “AYP status,” which is the federal accountability status for each school. The 2009-10 AYP status is based on the combination of the 2008-09 AYP status and the 2008-09 annual progress. The AYP status is what must be reported to the U.S. Department of Education.
Of Maine’s 635 public schools, the 2009-10 AYP status breaks down as follows:
As noted above, the 2009-10 AYP status for each school is based on a combination of its 2008-09 AYP status and Annual Progress. The two tables below summarize both the 2009-10 AYP status for all schools, and the 2008-09 Annual Progress for all schools.
2008-09 Annual Progress
2009-10 AYP Status
Title I schools that enter into CIPS status are eligible for resources and financial assistance from the Department in their work to improve student learning and test scores. The funds come from the U.S. Department of Education.
For example, Caravel Middle school has used grants from Title1 School Improvement funds totaling nearly $50,000 over three years to train all its teachers to use “formative assessment,” a strategy through which teachers do frequent checks on student understanding and progress and adjust their teaching to meet individual students’ needs.
Troy Howard Middle school participated in the same training and used an additional $25,000 to provide additional training that led to their Content Area Reading school-wide initiative. In that program, all teachers in the school teach reading in their classes, choosing strategies from an approved collection of strategies that best fit the age of the student and the subject of the class. Every teacher contributes to developing reading skills in their students.
In both cases, the schools made progress in student achievement and came off the list of schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress.
High School Test Results
The 2008-2009 school year represented the fourth year of Maine’s SAT Initiative, in which the SAT test serves as the primary assessment for 11th grade reading and mathematics under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The Maine High School Assessment is composed of: the complete SAT which measures critical reading, mathematics and writing; a 12-item mathematics supplement to measure Maine math standards not covered by the SAT; and a state developed science test. Maine is the only state to use the SAT as part of the federal accountability requirement while a small group of mid-western states use the ACT in a similar fashion.
Scores remained unchanged from the previous year in all subjects tested. The scale, which runs from 1100 -1180, showed state level scores of 1141 in both mathematics and reading and 1140 in both writing and science.
The state again surpassed the federally required 95% participation rate in all subject areas, posting rates of 96% in reading and writing, 97% in science, and 98% in mathematics. The mathematics and science rates reflect a 1% increase over the 2008 administration.
Maine’s SAT Initiative fits in well with the current work on the common core national standards initiative that is well under way. Forty-eight states have signed on to the initiative with expectations of graduating all students ready for college, careers and citizenship. The national discussion of the common core standards is similar to one in Maine four years ago when the state decided to use the SAT for statewide high school assessment. Maine Education Commissioner Sue Gendron, who is president of the Chief Council of State School Officers — the association of state education commissioners — has been a strong advocate of national core standards as a way of truly measuring the rigor of state standards and improving the ability to compare data from state to state.
David Connerty-Marin 207-624-6880/207-831-3313
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