Cape Henlopen schools score above average in most state assessments

Cape High’s reading/writing and math SAT scores up 10 points
August 10, 2018

Cape Henlopen schools scored above state average on state assessment tests, making slight gains overall, except for a drop in SAT essay scores seen in most Delaware schools. 

“Overall, we’re quite pleased with the assessment results for 2018,” said Cape Superintendent Bob Fulton. “We’re very proud of the fact that Cape High School had the largest increase in reading/writing scores for the state with a 10 percent increase, and the second-largest in math scores, also with a 10 percent increase.”

Scores were released from Smarter Balanced English language arts and math assessment tests for grades 3 to 8 and the SAT administered in high school. 

Delaware’s overall Smarter Balanced math scores for grades 3 to 8 rose to 44 percent proficiency in 2018 compared to 39 percent in 2015. Cape’s math scores for grades 3 to 8 scored above the state average at 57 percent in 2018, rising from 52 percent in 2015. Despite the rise, more than 40 percent of Cape students scored below grade level in math.

Beacon sixth- and eight-grade students each scored 59 percent, while seventh-graders scored at 71 percent proficiency. Mariner students scored significantly lower, with only 37 percent of sixth-graders and 39 percent of eighth-graders scoring proficiently, meaning only a little more than 1 in 3 students is proficient in math. Seventh-graders again scored best at 48 percent.

Fulton said this was the first year since 2015 Cape’s middle schools saw a decrease in eighth grade math proficiency levels. In 2018, Beacon’s eighth-graders scored at 59 percent proficiency, a drop from 67 percent in 2015. Mariner eighth-graders scored at 39 percent proficiency in 2018, compared to 45 percent in 2015.

“We take notice when any grade level increases or decreases in percentage of proficiency,” Fulton said. “However, we put more emphasis on the situations and/or data that show these changes over multiple years.”

Elementary students fared better overall. Milton Elementary rose to the top with 71 percent proficiency, followed by Rehoboth Elementary and Shields each at 70 percent. In its first year of testing, Love Creek Elementary students scored at 67 percent proficiency. Major improvement was seen at H.O. Brittingham, where, at 56 percent, scores have risen 18 percentage points from 2015. 

Cape schools also surpassed state-average Smarter English language arts proficiency scores in grades 3 to 8. The overall proficiency rate improved slightly from 52 percent in 2015 to 54 percent in 2018; Cape’s scores rose from 62 percent proficiency in 2015 to 65 percent 2018, also above state averages. Beacon students scored higher, with about 2 in 3 sixth- and eighth-graders scoring proficient, while nearly 3 in 4 seventh-graders were proficient. Beacon scores were 68 percent, 72 percent and 66 percent proficient in grades 6, 7 and 8. Mariner scored 61, 57 and 54 percent in grades 6, 7 and 8.

Among Cape’s elementary school English language arts scores, Rehoboth Elementary scored highest at 79 percent proficiency, with Shields at 66 percent. Milton Elementary tested at 60 percent proficiency, Love Creek at 58 percent and H.O. Brittingham 47 percent, meaning less than half of H.O. Brittingham’s students are proficient. Still, 47 percent represents major growth, 9 percent above 2015. 

H.O. Brittingham Principal Ned Gladfelter said his school has implemented two programs that have led to his students’ success.

“We use the new American Reading Company framework which enables every student in the school to set individualized power goals specific to their needs,” he said. “Students work on these goals as they are reading on their independent reading level.”
Glatfelter said a new Leader in Me philosophy has helped shape student learning.
“Every student takes more ownership of their learning while living by the 7 Habits of Happy Kids, based upon the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ book,” he said.

Shields Elementary, typically the Cape district’s top-scoring elementary school, fell to second place in math and English language arts. Fulton said the district looks at overall results, rather than individual schools, when analyzing performance.

“Since redistricting, we are establishing a new baseline for overall performance,” he said. “Now that it’s been established, we’ll be able to identify trends over time and make the appropriate adjustments to our programs. 

“Comparisons between schools can be challenging, especially during a redistricting phase,” Fulton added. “Like any year, we will take a look at each grade level and the subject areas both at district level and at the school level to determine what improvements can be made. This year, we’ll follow that same process.”

Delaware uses the SAT to assess proficiency of high school students. The SAT is divided into three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math and essay. Students scoring above 480 in reading/writing and above 530 in math are considered proficient; students scoring below are nonproficient. 

Overall, student proficiency on the SAT dropped statewide from the previous year, and almost every school’s score dropped in the SAT’s essay portion. The only school whose essay score increased was the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, a charter school in New Castle.

“There was a big drop overall in the essay score, and we don’t know why,” said Department of Education Public Information Officer Alison May. “We need to spend time digging into this and see how we can better support our schools.”

The essay is scored in three areas - reading, analysis and writing - each worth up to 8 points for a total possible score of 24. To be considered proficient, students must receive at least 3 points in each area and the sum of all scores must exceed 13. So, nonproficient scores range from 0-12, and proficient from 13-24.

In 2017, 53 percent of students overall achieved proficiency compared to only 40 percent in 2018. From 2017 to 2018, Cape High’s scores dropped from 45 to 38, meaning nearly two-thirds of Cape High students are not writing at grade level.

Fulton said the district is evaluating the essay portion’s drop in score. 

“We’re going to continue to improve our strategies from last year in order to have the best results possible,” he said. “Meanwhile, we will wait to hear from the Department of Education and The CollegeBoard on why there was a drop in scores across the state.”

Cape High students scored above state averages in the SAT’s reading/writing and math portions.

In 2017, 53 percent of students statewide were proficient in reading/writing compared to 50 percent in 2018. However, Cape High’s scores rose from 50 percent proficiency in 2017 to 60 percent proficiency in 2018.

In 2017, 29 percent of Delaware’s high school students were proficient in math; in 2018, 28 percent were. Cape High’s SAT scores again rose 10 points, going from 26 percent proficiency in 2017 to 36 percent in 2018. 

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