State test results demonstrate Norris students achieving well

State test results demonstrate Norris students achieving well

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Norris students are among the top performers statewide according to the latest round of state-developed tests designed to measure student knowledge of the state standards.  Test results released August 21 by the state of Nebraska show that the students of the Norris School District meet or exceed proficient status (grade-level mastery of the standards for the content area assessed) at a rate well above the state averages, at all grade levels and in all three subjects tested. 

The tests are administered at various grade levels throughout the system:

Reading: Grades 3 through 8 and 11

Mathematics: Grades 3 through 8 and 11

Science: Grades 5, 8 and 11

A particularly bright spot in the spring assessments were the science results for grades 5, 8 and 11.  These were the three grades identified for the new state science standards test, and Norris students turned in memorable performances at each level.  85% of Norris 5th graders met or exceeded the standards in science whereas 67% did across the state.  82% of Norris 8th graders met or exceeded the standards in science compared to just 68% statewide, and nearly 90% of Norris 11th graders met or exceeded science standards on the state test compared to just 2/3 of juniors across the state.

Norris Middle School science teacher and curriculum leader Betsy Barent summed up the sentiments of the science teaching team, as they found the results give cause to celebrate while galvanizing efforts to help students grow: “Our kids performed at a high level, and we are excited about that. Science is hard!  The amount of knowledge and comprehension our kids are expected to master and retain is huge, so to score as well as we did on the inaugural test is awesome. With that said, we expect to get better, especially in the area of inquiry. Inquiry is the essence of Science and so we want our kids to thrive in their abilities to problem solve.”

A comparative analysis basis for test results frequently used by the Governor’s office is to examine how schools compare to their NSAA Athletic Class cohort group.  This is typically done by looking at the 11th grade or junior year tests scores as the final state test administered before students go on to the ACT and, hopefully, college level success.  In the scope of all Class B schools representing three dozen districts, Norris’ 2012 juniors’ average scale scores:

CLASS B total school results for 11th grade:

Norris Reading: Scale score average 123 = 5th best in state

Norris Mathematics: Scale score average 111 = 8th best in state

Norris Science: Scale score average 115 = 3rd best in state

Top Norris results (Spring, 2012) in Eastern Midlands Conference:

Grade 4: Conference #1 in Reading

Grade 5: Conference #1 in Math

Grade 6: Conference #1 in Math

Grade 7: Conference #1 in Reading & Mathematics

Looking inward: While the comparisons to other districts provide one lens of examining achievement results, the internal focus must always be on helping students grow from year to year, continuing to become more proficient and helping students who are not proficient to achieve mastery of the grade-level standards.  Evidence of student growth at Norris is readily apparent in the longitudinal or year to year results.  Grades 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 all demonstrated improved scale scores from the preceding year in both Reading and Mathematics tests.  The performance improvements provide excellent evidence that Norris teachers know the individual learning needs of their students and that they are teaching with an eye on the state standards as essential learning targets. 

The results published by the state today are from the latest (spring, 2012) round of testing.  The tests are a mandatory aspect of the state school accountability system.  The results will be factored into other significant factors of school effectiveness such as graduation rate and ACT scores when the State of Schools Report Card is released

The tests are multiple choice state-written and developed exams that are uniform for all students within that grade level in Nebraska.  Most Norris students take the tests online in district computer labs via a secure login and a smaller portion of students take the exams via paper-pencil.  The tests are administered in a highly standardized format. 

Complete results searchable by district and school are available on the Nebraska Department of Education website at http://www.education.ne.gov/index.html