District sees test score gains

School District 55 showed overall improvement in state assessment test scores in 2008-09.

Tests were given in reading and math from the third through 10th grade. Writing tests were given in the fourth, seventh and 10th grade. Science tests were given in the fifth, eighth and 10th grades.

Across specific schools in each grade and subject, the district had 68 groups of students. Of those groups, five finished more than 10 percent below the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state requirements. Those groups are referred to as “red zones” based on a color charting system the district is using to show the scores.

They included third grade math at Foster, with 64 percent of students meeting or exceeding state benchmarks; fifth grade math at Foster, with 66 percent; fourth-grade math at Oak Heights, 63 percent; sixth-grade math at Hawthorne, 52 percent; and seventh-grade writing, 33 percent.

In the 2006-07 school year, the district had 17 groups out of 61 where the percentages of students meeting or exceeding the state benchmarks were more than 10 percent lower than state percentages. There were no science tests in 2006-07.

This year, all students met or exceeded state benchmarks in third- and sixth-grade reading at Crawfordsville; fourth-grade reading and fourth-grade math at Sweet Home Charter School; and fifth-grade reading and fifth-grade science at Holley.

The district had 47 groups where the percentages of students meeting or exceeding state benchmarks exceeded the statewide percentages, up from 29 groups in 2006-07.

Sweet Home Charter School was more than 10 percent lower than the state averages across the board in 2006-07. In 2008-09, the Charter School and Holley School exceeded statewide performance at every level.

The district had more students meeting or exceeding the state benchmarks in reading in the third, fourth, fifth and eighth grades; in fourth- and 10th-grade math; in fourth- and seventh-grade writing; and eighth- and 10th-grade science.

The percentages of students meeting or exceeding state standards were more than 10 percent higher than the state percentages in fifth-grade science, 86 percent, and eighth-grade math, 83 percent,.

The percentages of students meeting or exceeding state standards were less than 10 percent lower than the state percentages in reading in the sixth, seventh and 10th grades; in math in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades; and 10th-grade writing.

The district’s test performance has consistently improved over the past three years, Supt. Larry Horton said.

“That’s a pretty significant improvement. “The trend is a positive trend. I am very excited about that and hope that continues.

“Our goal would be to see it all in the green. Another goal I would be pleased with is if we could do away with all red zone areas. If we could do away with that category, that would be a great accomplishments.”

“Green zones” refer to groups on the district chart that are 10 percent higher than state averages.

Horton is pleased with the district’s improvements, he said. “Are we where we want to be? No.”

“We still have some gaps,” said Curriculum Director Jan Sharp. The district still needs improvement in math and writing.

“We have some subgroups we’re looking at,” she said. Some areas might look strong, but the district needs to work on students with individual education plans. It also needs to improve performance among the economically disadvantaged, especially in the upper levels.

“Really, it’s still the three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic,” Sharp said. Science scores are strong and have been.

Elementary reading overall is fairly strong, Sharp said, and she is pleased with the improvement: The district improved faster than the state.

It can be a little frustrating, like trying to plug holes in a dike, she said. Plug one by focusing on reading, another starts leaking and math seems to suffer, for example.

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