2016 state test results show progress across the board in English language arts, mathematics
Delaware students across the board are performing better in mathematics and English language arts, according to preliminary 2016 state test results for grades 3 to 8 released today. The gains are in almost every grade and subject and across almost every student demographic, including students with disabilities, English learners, students from low-income families and those of most racial and ethnic subgroups. Students reaching proficiency levels increased by 2 to 5 percentage points in nearly all grade levels in both subjects.
“We are pleased with the progress and look forward to continuing gains,” Governor Jack Markell said. “This progress reflects hard work by children and educators to meet higher standards as we aim to ensure every student is prepared for success in the next grade and, ultimately, after graduation. We know a lot more must be done to reach our goal and that means reaffirming our commitment to giving all students, and their teachers, the support they need to reach their potential.”
This is the second year Delaware administered the Smarter Assessment. Statewide, nearly 55 percent of students in third through eighth grades were proficient or better in English language arts this year compared to 52 percent in 2015 for the same grades. In math, almost 44 percent scored at the proficient level or higher, up from 41 percent in 2015.
“What is most exciting about this year’s results is the strong progress made by students across the board, including those from groups that traditionally have performed at lower levels than their peers,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said.
State assessments measure students’ progress toward the academic goals laid out in Delaware’s Common Core academic standards, which are designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in jobs and college. The standards, which were established by a diverse group of educators and others in the education community through a national initiative Markell co-chaired, set learning expectations for what students should know or what skills they should master at the completion of each grade level. Individual districts or charter schools determine their own curricula and decide how those skills and knowledge are best taught.
The state assessments ask students to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving. By focusing on skills most important for students to succeed in college and the workplace, the results provide teachers and families with a snapshot of children’s progress, helping to identify school and student strengths and determine subject areas in which students need support.
While no single test can provide a complete picture of achievement, annual assessments give families and educators important information about student progress and areas for improvement, especially when combined with student grades and teacher reports.
This year, Delaware educators are able to access deeper-level Smarter score information than last year through the state’s Smarter Analytics system. Using Smarter Analytics, teachers have the ability to determine each student’s understanding of specific items taught in English and math classes, which helps them better serve individual student needs.
Scores for multiple other standards-based assessments, including SAT and in-class assessments, are available in Smarter Analytics as well, providing a more-comprehensive look at student assessment scores and demonstrating the importance of an entire assessment system over any one test to help guide instruction.
Preliminary state and district/charter-level results were released today. Final results, including school-level, will be released in August.
Families will receive enhanced family score reports for their children in the mail beginning next week. The redesigned reports include detailed information about how students scored on different parts of each subject test and also show how students are progressing through the standards and across grades. Also new this year, families are receiving guides in advance of the score reports that outline how to support student learning at home. The guides include resources for understanding what students should learn at each grade level based on the academic standards. For each grade, families are given lists of what students should have learned last year and what students should be able to do this year and corresponding ways to support student learning at home.
On the Smarter Assessment, students earn an overall score on a four-point scale with at least a three required to be considered proficient.
Statewide change in percent proficient for 2015-16 for ELA by subgroup
Statewide change in percent proficient for 2015-16 for mathematics by subgroup
Almost every school district saw gains in English language arts and mathematics, with the greatest gains made in Woodbridge, Seaford and Laurel, respectively.
Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov, whose district saw 13-percentage point increases in both English language arts and math, credited his staff for their dedication and hard work.
“We are extremely excited about the growth that we have obtained across the district on this year’s assessment. It's a testament to a group of educators that believe in the abilities of all children and are dedicated to their success,” he said. “We are proud of how hard our students have worked and continue to be excited for their future success.”
In Seaford, the average proficiency was up 11 percentage points in both subjects.
“These types of gains become possible through the combined efforts of our school board, administration, staff, students, parents and school community. Our district has been on a course to have all of our stakeholders internalize the expectation that all students will be successful,” Superintendent David Perrington said. “While we are appreciative with these gains, we also recognize this is not an end point, but a measure of the dynamic process that is necessary to provide our students with the greatest opportunity to be successful.”
Laurel also saw great gains: 9 percentage points in mathematics and 8 in English language arts.
Superintendent Shawn Larrimore said Laurel refocused last August with a mission of “People. Practices. Performance.” for the district and “Rigor. Relevance. Relationships.” as the instructional mission for the schools.
“We knew we’d have to work very hard this year, but we’d also have to have a laser-like focus on the initiatives that would make the biggest impact – and not waver from them – if we were going to have a shot at increasing student achievement across our district,” Larrimore said. “We started on Day 1. Our teachers and our administrators came together for our first week back to school … and outlined where we were as a district and where we wanted to go.
“Mission statements alone don’t cut it, but they must serve as a lens through which you gauge every decision for your district and for your school,” he said.
Several districts, including Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, that already were above the state average also saw strong gains.
The Delaware Department of Education today also released preliminary statewide results for the state administration of the SAT in 11th grade: 53 percent proficient or above in English language arts and 31 percent or above in mathematics. Since 2011, Delaware has provided the SAT to all public high school juniors during the school day. This year marked the first time the SAT also served as the state’s high school accountability test, replacing the Smarter Assessment used for this purpose last year. This spring also saw a redesigned SAT from the College Board. Because this year’s redesigned SAT is different than previous years’ and on a different score scale, a comparison with 2015 scores is not provided.
The statewide results presented today are preliminary and based on proposed cut scores that must be approved by the State Board of Education. That decision is expected to come at the board’s August meeting. District- and school-level results also will be released at that time.
Other assessment results
Today’s release also included the preliminary Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) assessment results for science and social studies as well as the DCAS-Alt1 test for students with severe cognitive disabilities in all subjects.
For science, DCAS measures the progress of students in grades 5, 8, and 10. In social studies, DCAS measures grades 4 and 7. This year’s DCAS assessment results are consistent with last year across all grade levels for which the assessment is administered.
Percent Proficient on DCAS Science
Percent Proficient on DCAS Social Studies
The DCAS-Alt1 is an assessment designed to measure what students with the most significant cognitive disabilities know and are able to do in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 11; science in grades 5, 8, and 10; and social studies in grades 4, 7, and 9.