Parent Teacher Magazine Gaston County Schools Nov/Dec 2017 - Page 8

Gaston sees increase in student proficiency on state tests More schools exceed academic growth expectations; middle schools experience highest gains Gaston County Schools continues to see a steady increase in overall student proficiency and academic growth on end-of-grade and end- of-course state tests, according to information released by the North Carolina State Board of Education. For the 2016-2017 school year, 55.0 percent of students scored a Level III, IV, or V on the state tests. The READY state accountability program designates students with a Level III, IV, or V score performing at or above grade level expectations. The overall student proficiency on end-of- grade and end-of-course state tests increased again. Student proficiency is 2.1 points higher than last year when Gaston’s overall score was 52.9 percent. In 2013-2014 when the state implemented new testing standards under the READY accountability program, Gaston had 50.2 percent of students scoring a Level III, IV, or V. Collectively, the most significant gains in student proficiency occurred at the middle school level. All of the district’s 11 middle schools saw increases ranging from +2.4 to +10.1 over last year. Cramerton, Holbrook, Grier, and Chavis had the highest increases. At the high school level, Hunter Huss achieved a double-digit increase in student proficiency (+10.3 over last year). In its first year as a STEAM magnet school for grades K-5, Hawks Nest saw a +18.2 increase over the previous year’s proficiency score for Hawks Nest Intermediate School (grades 4-5). Additionally, Pleasant Ridge (+7.9) and Pinewood (+5.7) had notable increases at the elementary level when compared to 2015-2016. Additionally, Gaston had more schools to exceed academic growth expectations, increasing from 20 schools last year to 22 schools this year. Academic growth indicates whether students achieve a year’s worth of academic progress for a year’s worth of instruction. Growth is reported in one of three ways: Exceeded Growth, Met Growth, or Did Not Meet Growth. “We continue to see steady improvement in academic achievement, which is encouraging for our schools and our community,” stated Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker. “We are proud of our increases in student proficiency and academic growth and appreciate all that our schools did to focus on higher academic performance.” Booker added, “While we are seeing gains in student achievement, we want more substantial increases. We will analyze the test data to identify our strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies to ensure that our students achieve at an even higher level. We are making academic progress, and we are confident that our efforts will result in higher student proficiency and higher academic growth for our schools.” Students in grades 3-8 take end-of-grade tests in reading and math, and fifth and eighth graders also take an end-of-grade science test. High school students take end-of-course tests in Math I, Biology, and English II. The district had its most significant subject area improvements in seventh grade math (+8.8) and in eighth grade science (+5.6). Additionally, the READY test data is used to determine the School Performance Grades, which were assigned for the first time in 2014. A school’s performance letter grade is determined using a formula based only 6 • November/December 2017 • Parent Teacher Magazine  on two factors – student achievement (80 percent) and student academic growth (20 percent). The School Performance Grade should not be interpreted as a comprehensive evaluation