Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

De Soto students shine on state assessment tests

October 15, 2008

Because of her faith in the administrators, teachers and curriculum at De Soto USD 232, she always has confidence district students will do well on state assessment test, Kim Barney said.

This year, the confidences of the district’s associate director of learning services and assessment coordinator wasn’t misplaced. The district made the all-important adequate yearly progress as did all its schools and sub-groups.

Data the district released last week indicates 87.9 percent of the 3,043 district students taking the assessment met or exceeded standards in math. That was 23.3 percent better than the percentage the state required make AYP, and a 1 percent increase from 2006-2007 scores.

Similar results were seen in reading where 91.5 percent of 3,062 district students taking that portion of the assessments met or exceeded standards. The state requirement was the 72 percent of students did so. Last year, 89 percent of students achieved or bettered the standard.

Last year was the first time science and social studies were tested on the assessments and this year’s data will be used to establish a baseline for future tests.

The district had success there, too, with 92.1 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards in science and 91.3 percent doing so in social studies.

The Kansas Department of Education will release so-called 2007-2008 report cards for district’s and individual schools at Wednesday afternoon after The Explorer goes to press. Those reports for 2007-2008 and past years can be found at online.ksde.org/rcard/

Look for updated numbers from Wednesday’s release at desotoexplorer.com.

The district has had years that it didn’t achieve annual yearly progress either because of reading concerns at Starside Elementary School in De Soto within its low-income enrollment or because the scores of its developmentally disabled students.

Barney said there was always concern because not only does the district and its 11 schools have to make AYP, but so does its populations of students receiving free and reduced lunches, with disabilities, English language learners, Hispanics, Asian Pacific islanders, multi-ethnic and undeclared students and Caucasians.

Some of those have small enough populations that a few students having bad testing days good prevent the district or a school from earning AYP, Barney said.

But the district showed improvement in the sub-groups, too. Its English language learners improved their reading scores on the 2007-2008 scores by 13 percent in reading and 14.2 percent in math from the year before. Students with learning disabilities improved their reading scores by 5.7 percent and their math scores by 1.5 percent.

Barney said there is overall confidence in the district the students will do well on the state assessments.

“We have high quality professional development with out learning coach program,” she said. “We have a great sense of commitment from great teachers and great leadership from administrators both in the buildings and on a district level.”

There is stress associated with the assessments because of NCLB and the consequences of not performing and the inevitable comparisons to the performance of other districts, but they also provide the district with a wealth of information that can be applied to the individual students to the district level, Barney said.

“That’s the most powerful thing they have done with assessments,” she said. “They do give us a snapshot of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. You can see classroom and building trends. There is a lot of powerful data we do get back.

“Using data from the assessments is a major focus. We have others we use as well.”

At the USD 232 Board of Education meeting, principals for the district’s schools explained how they were using the data to improve their schools. Those strategies included adopting uniform math vocabularies to using the data to help individual Mill Valley High School students improve in specific areas.

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