Cape students show progress on state tests

H.O. Brittingham, Sussex Consortium miss mark
October 11, 2013
Cape schools showed positive improvement on test scores last school year. Only two schools, H.O. Brittingham Elementary and Sussex Consortium, did not meet the state-mandated annual yearly progress. SOURCE FILE

Cape Henlopen schools generally measured up to statewide goals, with nearly all schools demonstrating adequate improvement in student test scores.

The exceptions were H.O. Brittingham Elementary School and Sussex Consortium, which serves special-needs students. The Delaware Department of Education set targets for scores on state tests given to students during the 2012-13 school year that every public school was required to meet in order to receive a positive adequate yearly progress rating. In turn, the Delaware officials report the results to the U.S. Department of Education, which compiles the information nationally.

At H.O. Brittingham, white students as a group failed to meet the statewide target for English language arts. While all other students met the language arts targets and all students met math targets, HOB still failed to meet the required progress.

“If you miss one cell, you don't make AYP,” said Michael Kelley, director of curriculum and instruction.

Two testing models are used to determine annual yearly progress: An original model created during the Race to the Top initiative calculates student proficiency in a subject, while a new model measures whether a student's test scores have improved over the two times they take the test. Additionally, the state factors in the number of students taking the state test and average attendance to determine a school's overall annual progress.

HOB students, except white students, met state targets in English language arts on both the original test model and the new growth model. All students met the targets in math, but because the white/Caucasian subgroup missed the mark in language arts, HOB failed to make adequate yearly progress, Kelley said.

In order to improve future test scores, he said, HOB has instituted a Read 180 program to improve student reading. Additional staffing at the school will help it meet progress targets for 2014, he said.

On the bright side, Kelley said, consequences for not meeting the required benchmarks no longer have the same implication as they previously did.

In the past, schools that chronically failed to meet targets faced state takeover if the schools did not improve. Kelley said HOB's results this year did not put them under state review.

The federal government requires school districts track progress in math and English language arts when there are at least 30 students from specific ethnic, income and learning categories. These categories are called cells. Cape Henlopen School District is required to report test results for African American, Hispanic, white, English language learners, students with disabilities and students who are economically disadvantaged.

This is the last year Delaware will test students using the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System, which will be replaced with a Smarter Balanced test based on Common Core Standards.

Kelley said he did not yet know how the adequate yearly progress will be determined in the future as the new test is rolled out and the old test is shelved.

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