Students Continue to Achieve on NECAP posted on Feb 9, 2012
Students in the Essex Junction, Westford, and Union #46 school districts (the member school districts of Chittenden Central Supervisory Union, or CCSU), continue to achieve comparatively high on the 2011 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests. The NECAP reading, math, and writing tests measure students’ academic knowledge and skills relative to VT Grade Expectations, which represent the knowledge and skills students should have achieved by the end of the previous school year. In the elementary and middle school grades, the NECAP reading and math tests are administered to students in grades three through eight. The writing portion is only administered to grades five, eight, and eleven.
NECAP performance is categorized into four levels of achievement: Proficient with Distinction, Proficient, Partially Proficient, and Substantially Below Proficient. Teachers throughout CCSU review the NECAP results to measure continuous improvement, monitor individual student performance, and analyze trends within specific content areas and grade levels. Results are analyzed against two-year performance targets published in each school’s Action Plan.
At the high school level, only 11th grade students take the NECAP. At Essex High School (EHS), 82 percent of students scored proficient or higher in reading, 51 percent of students scored proficient or higher in math, and 57 percent of students scored proficient or higher in writing. EHS Principal Rob Reardon said, ”We will continue to analyze results to identify strengths and weaknesses in order to develop strategies for continuous improvement.”
Essex Junction students saw significant growth in all three areas, with 90 percent of 7th and 8th grade students reaching proficiency or higher in reading and 76 percent in math. Seventy percent of 8th grade students reached proficiency or higher in writing. “These results illustrated a return to the more common pattern of continual improvement we’ve been experiencing over the last several years,” ADL Principal Laurie Singer said. “Our reading and writing scores were the highest since we began NECAP testing, with increasingly more students scoring in the proficient with distinction range in reading, writing and math. We attribute our growth to a school wide focus on literacy and differentiated instruction across the content areas. Additionally, we drastically changed our approach in scheduling our NECAP testing days so that students could focus just on giving their best efforts on the assessments. The 2011 results suggest that both our academic focus and new approach to testing had very positive results. Some cohort groups made as much as a 19 percent increase in reading scores and 16 percent increase in math scores.”
Essex Junction students showed consistent growth across the other grade levels, as well with increases in scores in both year-to-year comparisons, as well as looking at student cohort growth from one grade to the next. For example, 80 percent of 5th grade students showed proficiency in reading, a 7 percent increase from the same group of students the year before as 4th grade students. Similar growth was seen in math with an increase from 72 percent of 4th grade student proficient or higher and an increase to 76 percent as fifth graders this year. Thomas Fleming Elementary School continues to experience improvement in student’s NECAP scores schoolwide.The combined fourth/fifth grade 2011 testing year data shows that 77 percent of students scored proficient or higher in reading, 74 percent scored proficient or higher in math, and 52 percent of fifth grade students scored proficient or higher in writing. Thomas Fleming Elementary School Principal Dan Ryan commented, “We note and celebrate a growing data trend of increasing numbers of students scoring at the proficient with distinction performance level in math,” Nearly one third of current Fleming students scored at this highest performance level in math. NECAP teaching year data shows a consistent improvement trend line for Fleming students in reading and math at the next tested grade levels from fourth grade through eighth grade.Our local constructed response writing assessment data offers a view of steady improvement in writing which we feel is not fully reflected on this fifth grade NECAP writing assessment.”
At the younger grades, students at Summit Street School and Hiawatha School showed consistently strong performance with 77 percent of 3rd grade students scoring proficient or higher in reading, and 80 percent of students scored proficient or higher in math. According to Principal Hughes, “Again the performance of Summit students exceeds state average and we are encouraged that children who are economically disadvantaged scored significantly higher on this year’s reading assessment. Closing this performance gap is a major focus of our Action Plan and this improvement is a testimony to our efforts. Summit educators will continue to analyze these results to inform instructional programming as well as to monitor student progress.” Hiawatha Principal Tom Bochanski also addresses the need to remain focused on closing the achievement gap for student subgroups. “Although there was an upward tick in overall math performance for Hiawatha ‘end of second grade’ and ‘end of third grade students’, we are disappointed with results related to our focus in supporting all children. For the first time in several years the achievement gap between economically diverse students and all students increased. We are committed to supporting all students and we will absolutely take steps to review our instruction across all grade levels at our school and the manner in which we provide outreach support to families.”
Westford students continued to perform well on the state assessment with 85 percent of students scored proficient or higher in the area of reading, and 75 percent of students scored proficient or higher in math. In the area of writing, 50 percent of the fifth grade students and 81 percent of 8th grade students scored proficient or higher. “I am pleased that Westford’s students have maintained high levels of performance on the NECAP assessment,” Westford principal David Wells said. “We note a strong growth trend for our students in the subjects of reading and writing between grades three and eight. We will continue to focus our instruction so that we meet our school targets in the areas of mathematics and writing.”
In looking at CCSU scores as a whole, 83 percent of students scored proficient or higher in reading, 69 percent of students scored proficient or higher in math, and 59 percent scored proficient or higher in writing. All data will be used for school improvement and accountability, as framed by the CCSU Comprehensive Plan for Continuous Improvement and will help drive each school’s action planning process.