New tests track students’ progress throughout the year

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

Thompson School District administration is providing a new way to track students’ progress through the year. At the school board of education meeting on March 1 in Loveland, Dr. Margaret Crespo, district chief academic officer, presented data from a report on mid-year student performance in math and reading.

“As you know, we’ve been working on data benchmarking over the last couple of years to really have a comprehensive approach to how we’re looking at data by school, by teacher, by student group; constantly asking questions to ensure our students’ success,” Crespo said.

This particular assessment measures end-of-year student expectations. Students are tested at the beginning of the school year to provide teachers some knowledge of where the students are in math and reading and are then tested throughout the year to track their progress.

For example, districtwide, 58 percent of third-grade students tested at the beginning of the year did not meet end-of-year standards in math. However, by mid-year, third graders had a 50 percent decrease in the number of students that did not meet grade-level proficiency and saw a 37 percent increase in students testing near or “approaching” grade-level proficiency.

Math benchmark assessments allow the district to monitor students’ progress and growth. Students are tested three times a year on what they are expected to know and understand at the end of the school year. The data provides teachers the ability to better personalize each student’s educational plan.

Districtwide, 84 percent of first graders tested at or above proficiency level in math, a 19 percent increase from the beginning of the year, according to the report. Third graders improved 55 percent from the beginning of the year, with 63 percent at or above grade level, while fourth graders saw the lowest improvement at 5 percent, with 25 percent at or above grade level.

Berthoud Elementary students improved 3 percent, up to 84 percent of first graders at or above proficiency in math. Second graders saw a 17 percent increase, while Ivy Stockwell second graders had a 35 percent increase, up to 96 percent at or above grade level.

The report includes another assessment too. The iReady math assessment is a pilot program that measures highly-impacted schools and is very closely aligned with the PARC assessments. The iReady Math assessments were given to select students at 14 district schools, including elementary and middle schools.

Districtwide, fourth graders had the largest increase at 16 percent, with 37 percent of students at or above grade-level proficiency. Fifth graders had the highest percentage of students at or above grade level at 47 percent; however, the district saw a 10 percent increase from the beginning of the year.

The district also implemented an iReady diagnostic reading assessment that provides the district the ability to monitor student’s growth on grade-level standards over the course of the school year, similarly to the math tests. The tests are administered three times throughout the year; at the beginning, the middle and end of the year. The tests are also adaptive, which means they can be adjusted to the student’s level based on the responses the student provides while taking the test. This is helpful for teachers, as the data gathered aids them in personalizing instruction for individual student’s needs.

Districtwide, 48 percent of first graders were at or above grade level end-of-year standards in reading. But the data’s real value is in the ability to compare student’s progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. The 48 percent of first graders was a 40 percent increase from the beginning of the school year.

All grades first through eighth saw increases in the “at or above grade level” in reading.

The report also includes results of the PSAT 9 assessment taken in the fall districtwide by ninth-grade students. The assessment establishes a baseline measurement of the student’s college and career preparedness as they enter high school and provides them with a benchmark that indicates if they are on track to be prepared for college upon high school graduation.

Of the four high schools tested, Berthoud students scored at the top with 72 percent of students tested at meeting the reading and writing benchmark. Berthoud High School students also performed at the top of the district in math, with 53 percent meeting the benchmark. Districtwide, 39 percent of students met the benchmark for math and 62 percent of students met the benchmark for reading and writing.