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Districts Across State Recieve the 2016-2017 State Test Scores

Districts Across the State Receive the 2016-2017 State Test Scores

 

 

The State Department of Education (SDE) emphasized that assessments from the 2016-2017 school year mark a “total reset” in assessments.  In multiple emails to schools and in documents posted on Oklahoma’s State Department of Education website (http://sde.ok.gov/sde/documents/2017-09-25/assessment-guidance), the SDE warned not to compare scores from 2016-2017 with those of previous years due to the dramatic shift in expectations on the assessments.

The shift from the reading and mathematics assessments students had taken for years in 3rd through 8th grade was made in to “develop great thinkers, problem-solvers and innovators so that our students can succeed in college or career and compete for the best jobs of the future, and second, to save you college tuition dollars ($22 million a year) by reducing remediation rates.”  To accomplish such a goal, Oklahoma has followed what several other states have done to increase rigor and promote deeper thinking skills in students: they turned to assessments that are used nationwide.  For 3rd through 8th grade, assessments in English language arts (expanded from a reading assessment used previously in Oklahoma), mathematics, and science (this assessment is at 5th and 8th grades only) were aligned to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  The NAEP assessment is used to develop The Nation’s Report Card (https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/) which evaluates each state based on a sampling of schools assessed by the NAEP in each state.  High school students in Oklahoma are no longer taking End of Instruction (EOI) exams after key courses required for graduation.  Instead, a new set of assessments has been aligned to the two nationally used college entrance exams, the American College Testing (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).   

All students in 11th grade participate in taking either the ACT or the SAT in Oklahoma, and this assessment of reading, English, mathematics, and science reasoning (on the ACT, but no science is assessed on the SAT) will hopefully replace most of the high school assessments.  At Sperry, all 10th grade students take the Pre-ACT which provides useful information to help teachers and parents better prepare students for the ACT. 

The SDE notes that student performance “hasn’t changed—our expectations of them have changed now that we have aligned our standards and assessments with SAT, ACT, and NAEP to ensure that proficiency indicates college and career readiness.” 

 

Why has the SDE been sending emails and posting documents about this change in assessments?  The answer is simple: test scores are lower than what they have been in years past.  Much lower.  Many students who had been scoring in the Advanced category year after year will now find they are in the Proficient range, and a large group of students will find themselves in the Basic category (what used to be referred to as “Limited Knowledge”). 

Below is a chart with the district’s 2016-2017 assessment averages of students scoring at or above the Proficient category, and, for comparison, the State Average for students at or above the Proficient category are also provided:

Grade Level:

Content Area:

Sperry Percent at or Above Proficient

State Average at or above Proficient

3rd

ELA

55

39

3rd

Math

45

44

4th

ELA

45

37

4th

Math

51

41

5th

ELA

47

40

5th

Math

38

35

5th

Science

59

43

 

 

 

 

6th

ELA

48

40

6th

Math

29

35

7th

ELA

30

34

7th

Math

28

34

8th

ELA

22

35

8th

Math

16

23

8th

Science

34

41

 

 

 

 

10th

ELA

33

36

10th

Math

28

26

10th

Science

8

19

11th

U.S. History

84

51

 

 

 

 

 

% of 3rd Grade Meeting RSA Criteria

Sperry

State Average

55

39

 

The science assessments have changed this year as well, with the 10th grade science assessment receiving the strongest makeover.  Science, as noted earlier, is only assessed as a “reasoning” skill on the ACT and is not assessed at all on the SAT.  Federal requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its replacement program, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state that science knowledge and skills must be assessed at least once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school.  Therefore, the new science assessment shifted from the Biology EOI taken at the conclusion of Biology I to an assessment composed of 50% biological sciences and 50% physical sciences.  This created difficulty for many students who took Biology I in 9th grade and Advanced Placement Biology in 10th grade, as they had not taken the physical science class prior to being tested over physical science on the new assessment.  The low scores in science are not surprising and are partially attributed to the sequencing certain high school science courses.

The history exam (given at the end of high school U.S. history courses similar to the old U.S. History EOI) has yet to undergo its changes, the State Department noted in their documents about the new assessments.  The changes will include more civics and government as well as U. S. historical events.  There will be no history assessment for the 2017-2018 school year.  History assessment is a state requirement and not a Federal one, and is only required to be assessed “not less than once” in high school (9th through 12th grades). 

“The current drop in state test scores does not mean our students are learning less than in prior years.  It simply means the state changed their assessment instrument and now we must backload our written, taught, and assessed curriculum at the local level to deeply align with the current assessments,” said Dr. Brian Beagles, Superintendent of Sperry Public Schools.  “These new standards and assessments should help us to better prepare our students to be college and career ready.” 

If parents/guardians have immediate questions, they should talk with their student’s principal.  To learn more about the changes to the Oklahoma academic standards and how they impact our students, please visit http://www.impacttulsa.org/51342-2-2/