While Cape Henlopen schools scored highest in the state for math and English in grades three through eight, and largely above average on remaining assessments in 2022, district officials say more work needs to be done to ensure all students are reaching their potential.
The Delaware Department of Education released a cumbersome dataset of all Delaware testing scores Aug. 9, stating that assessment results for the 2021-22 school year reinforce the need to provide additional support and learning time to students in response to COVID-19 school building closures.
Cape district officials subsequently simplified the English language arts, math and SAT data for its own schools and released it to the public at the Aug. 25 school board meeting.
Supervisor of Secondary Education Michael Young said assessments were not taken in 2020 due to the pandemic, and in 2021, the participation rate dropped by about 24,000 students statewide.
The most recent comparable testing year was 2019, and in most areas, scores have dropped since that time, but some Cape grade levels outperformed 2019 scores.
Amanda Archambault, supervisor of elementary education, said the district is evaluating high scores in each grade level in order to replicate the successful strategies of those teachers.
“Consistently, pandemic or not, we score higher than the state, quite a bit higher,” Archambault said. “That doesn’t say that we believe our work is done. We know that until every kid is meeting the standard, we have lots of work to do.”
Superintendent Bob Fulton said the district is diving into the data at the school level to meet individual students’ needs. Some students may need higher-level work, while others need lower-level work with more support, he said. Attendance and social-emotional concerns need to be addressed as well, he said, and schools will develop action plans and track progress throughout the upcoming school year.
“We definitely are not there yet,” Fulton said. “Our numbers are better than others, but each year we look at each student, and if one student is not reaching their potential or meeting the standards or exceeding the standards, it’s not good enough for us. The work continues. We need to make sure we celebrate the successes along the way but understand that there's more work to be done.”
English language arts scores
Statewide, 42% of students in grades three to eight scored at or above their grade’s proficiency level in English language arts. At Cape schools, 57% of students in grades three to eight scored proficiently.
In 2018-19, the last full school year before the pandemic, Delaware’s overall proficiency rate in English language arts for grades three to eight was 53%; Cape’s rate was 67%.
2022 statewide proficient scores for English language arts are 40% for third grade, 41% for fourth grade, 46% for fifth grade, 38% for sixth grade, 44% for seventh grade and 42% for eighth grade.
At H.O.B., 61% of third-graders, 46% of fourth-graders and 47% of fifth-graders scored proficient. At Love Creek, 56% of third-graders, 47% of fourth-graders and 65% of fifth-graders scored proficient. Milton Elementary third-graders scored 48% proficient, fourth-graders scored 57% proficient and fifth-graders scored 54% proficient.
At Rehoboth Elementary, 60% of third-graders, 66% of fourth-graders and 59% of fifth-graders scored proficient. At Lewes Elementary, 57% of third- and fourth-graders scored proficient, and 72% of fifth-graders scored proficient.
At Beacon Middle, 72% of sixth-graders, 66% of seventh-graders and 65% of eighth-graders scored proficient. At Mariner Middle, 45% of sixth-graders, 51% of seventh-graders and 49% of eighth-graders scored proficient.
Statewide, 30% of students in grades three to eight scored proficient compared to 50% for Cape students in grades three to eight.
In 2018-19, Delaware’s overall proficiency rate in math for grades three to eight was 44%; Cape’s rate was 60%.
2022 statewide proficient scores for math are 41% for third grade, 35% for fourth grade, 29% for fifth grade, 25% for sixth grade, 27% for seventh grade and 24% for eighth grade.
At H.O.B., 58% of third-graders, 38% of fourth-graders and 45% of fifth-graders scored proficient. At Love Creek, 62% of third-graders, 57% of fourth-graders and 60% of fifth-graders scored proficient. Milton Elementary third-graders scored 44% proficient, fourth-graders scored 54% proficient and fifth-graders scored 48% proficient.
At Rehoboth Elementary, 71% of third-graders, 64% of fourth-graders and 52% of fifth-graders scored proficient. At Lewes Elementary, 67% of third-graders, 60% of fourth-graders and 57% of fifth-graders scored proficient.
At Beacon Middle, 56% of sixth- and seventh-graders and 50% of eighth-graders scored proficient. At Mariner Middle, 32% of sixth-graders, 39% of seventh-graders and 33% of eighth-graders scored proficient.
Delaware uses the SAT for high school assessment. Statewide in 2021-22, 47% of students scored proficient or higher in the reading test, 24% in math and 38% in the essay portion; Cape students scored 57% proficient in reading, 35% in math and 35% in the essay.
In 2018-19, statewide scores were 48% in reading, 28% in math and 42% in the essay; Cape scores were 57% in reading, 33% in math and 50% in the essay.
To view the Aug. 25 school board presentation, go to capehenlopenschools.com.
Science and social studies
In science, Delaware tests in grades five, eight and high school biology. The 2021-22 scores show 21% of fifth-graders, 17% of eighth-graders and 26% of high school biology students scoring proficient or higher.
At Cape, 28% of fifth-graders, 29% of eighth-graders and 29% of high school biology students scored proficient. In 2019, the scores were 41%, 43% and 48%, respectively.
Social studies is assessed in grades four, seven and 11. Statewide for 2021-22, 32% of fourth-graders, 29% of seventh-graders and 24% of 11th-graders scored at or above the proficient level.
At Cape, 41% of fourth-graders, 37% of seventh-graders and 15% of 11th-graders scored proficient. In 2019, scores were 58%, 46% and 48%, respectively.
LouAnn Hudson, Cape director of teaching and learning, provided district score data on social studies and science after the school board meeting.
Advanced Placement scores
In related assessments, the number of Cape High students scoring a 3 or higher in Advanced Placement exams has more than doubled since 2017.
Many U.S. colleges and universities will grant credit and/or let students who score a 3 or above on an AP exam skip the equivalent subject course when they enroll.
According to the College Board, which administers the exams, the college course equivalent for a score of 3 is B-, C+ or C; for 4 is A-, B+ or B; and for 5 is A+ or A.
In 2022, 114 Cape AP students scored a 3 or higher, compared to 104 in 2021, 98 in both 2019 and 2020, 87 in 2018 and 60 in 2017.