Superintendent Anna Shepherd announces the 2019-2020 assessment results.
Shepherd comments, “Let me begin by saying that our school and district staff made extraordinary efforts to administer state assessments during a pandemic. These tests were different in many ways including adjusting testing windows and having seven separate ACT administrations. With the Spring 2021 K-PREP, we had a successful online administration and successful social studies field tests in grades 5, 8, and 11.” Talking more about the actual assessments, Shepherd says, “While this shortened test cannot be compared to tests from previous years nor can it be considered as “comprehensive,” we can use it as a COVID-19 era data point similar to how we use our other benchmark and formative assessments. I want to stress that the purpose of assessments is to see what children have mastered so that we have a better understanding of the year ahead and what areas they may need more instruction in.”
Shepherd discusses some of the possible impacts on student performance saying, “We want everyone to realize all of the obstacles involved in our spring assessment that haven’t been factors before. Students had many disruptions to their education with closures and a lack of access to learning supports at school, such as instructional aides. Assessments were shorter and students had less time to complete them. Our student participation rate wasn't as high as it normally is and participation was unevenly distributed across the county.”
Regarding graduation rates, Shepherd says, “This area is a strength for us whether you are looking at the 4 or the 5 year cohort. Basically, the difference in these cohorts is one measures the percentage of students who begin and graduate high school in four years while the other gives the percentage of students who begin and graduate in five years. In Floyd County Schools we are running 93%-94.3% respectively.”
As for the students who took the Kindergarten screener, Shepherd says, “We’re very happy that over 86% of our students completed this screener because we want to know as much about each child as we can. According to this screener, 63.9% of our students were ready to begin Kindergarten this year. While this is lower than in previous years, we see this as a strength of the partnership between our early childhood teaching teams and our parents.”
About 90% of students in grades 3-5 participated in the assessment. Third grade is a grade that we will focus on for growth as 85-90% of the students scored in the Novice and Apprentice range in reading and math. Fourth grade showed more students scoring in the Proficient and Distinguished range in reading with science and math lagging behind. Fifth grade reading scores are the strongest in the elementary level, as are their writing scores. Once again, we see lower scores in math.”
Middle School Results
As for scores at the middle school level, Shepherd says, “Sixth and eighth grades have over 40% of students reading at the Proficient/Distinguished levels with a dip in seventh grade to 34% Proficient/Distinguished. Math scores in all three grade levels are low although we see some standouts in eighth grade writing with 55.6% of students scoring Proficient/Distinguished.
High School Results
At the high school level, nearly 30% of 10th and 11th graders scored Proficient and Distinguished in reading with math, once again, being a concern, with only about 15% scoring Proficient and Distinguished. Writing was a standout with 55% of students scoring at the Proficient and Distinguished levels.
Historically, elementary scores tend to be the highest, then middle school and lastly high school scores. Now we are seeing high schools with the highest scores and elementary schools with the lowest. Other data reported to high schools is students' ACT scores. As a district, Floyd County Schools students have an average composite of 17.3. In the subject areas, reading is the highest with an average of 18.1, science is next at 17.0, and English and math come in at 16.8 and 16.4 respectively.
The School Climate and Safety Survey is another piece of data we have used to learn more. This survey showed that almost all of our elementary students think that adults from their schools are working hard to keep them safe while about 50% of them say that other students are mean and hurtful online through websites, apps, etc. At the middle level we saw that about 95% of students said that adults at their schools care about students’ physical safety and 63% said they feel comfortable stating their opinions in class even when others disagree. When it came to high school, about 75% said that adults from their schools care about them and almost 60% said they felt good about what they learned during NTI.
Shepherd concludes saying, “We knew that the scores would be impacted by factors that we have not faced in previous years. We do not see these scores as the best indicator of where kids are academically after a disrupted school year with a mix of virtual and in person learning. We simply see these scores as another piece of information we can use to determine what our students need instruction in now and in the future. We know that across the state and nation schools and districts are receiving similar results and that lets us know that we aren’t the only ones dealing with this setback. We are asking our schools to analyze their survey results so that they have a better understanding of student growth and feelings about school climate last school year.” Shepherd continued, “We hope that students, staff, and families will not feel discouraged by these test results, as they are not a reflection of the outstanding work that was done last year collectively in this school district. We are glad to have the data to help us examine, investigate, and find areas to grow in and improve upon this school year.”