The headlines on the Poughkeepsie Journal this morning decried that "Some Hudson Valley Students Struggled with the NYS Tests," but I was thrilled to know that it was only SOME students who struggled!
Seriously, I was still sweaty from my morning walk / run when I googled "NYS scores and August 8 2011" this morning.
My heart was pounding as if I had run a sub 12 minute mile (in my dreams) as I scrolled for my district and school and then quickly compared the results to schools and districts that NYS (and my bosses) consider to be "similar!" I suspect I felt as if I were opening my SAT results or logging on to see if I had been accepted into my first choice school! After a few hours of study, I was left with some analysis for my district and many questions.
While the format of the ELA tests changed dramatically last year, the scores were similar to last year's scores for MANY districts. Like the Po Jo noticed, some students did struggle but many others did VERY well in spite of the new format and lots more writing than ever before! When looking at similar schools AND COMPARING THE SAME GRADE I was pleased to notice that our "mean scaled scores" were VERY similar - in fact within what some might refer to as a statistical margin of error! While I did notice some significant differences in grade to grade performance (4th graders across the state the MUCH better than 3rd graders), similar schools had similar results! The percentages of students scoring levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 stayed pretty much the same for MANY schools and while that is GOOD, I sure hope it is GOOD ENOUGH for those in charge of watching scores who (in the past) have felt that the only POSITIVE measure of success was if scores went UP!
I do, however, have a bit of malaise about me as I reflect on the scores across the state and what they might mean not just for "me" and my students but for teachers and students across the state. While students in high performing (and often wealthier districts with fewer ELLs) continue to do quite well with over 80% of their students scoring 3s and 4s on the ELA, lower performing (and often less affluent districts with often more newly tested ELLs) may have less than 50% of their students scoring 3s and 4s on the ELA.
Now what does all this mean? I am going to go reflect on that some more but I do want those who write headlines to the PoJo to know that our NYS students did their BEST and that those of us who are on the "front lines" will plan for intensive and differentiated learning experiences for all learners who did not YET earn the desired "score."
PS I did not say we would just do "test prep!" We'll be teaching them to be readers and writers because those who got the 3s and 4s...that is what they do...read and write....
a little bit more!!!!!!!!!!