Beverly school showing progress
Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:20 pm | Updated: 6:47 am, Sat May 17, 2014.
BEVERLY — Things are looking up for the school district.
Benchmark assessments of student progress at the city school showed improvements in a number of academic areas, a report released to the Board of Education showed Wednesday.
For kindergarten through third grade, an assessment is administered four times a year. In it, students read a text and the teacher follows along marking for accuracy, fluency and vocabulary.
In the test, 80 percent of students in first grade showed growth, 97 percent showed growth in second grade, and 100 percent showed growth by third grade.
STAR reading and math scores also were revealed. The purpose of the STAR assessments is to provide information to teachers about student reading and math growth and achievement in first through 12th grades.
Teachers and administrators are able to view and print a number of reports at the individual, classroom and grade levels to monitor progress. Teachers then can tailor instruction to individuals and to high-stakes testing requirements.
The STAR reading test for grades 3 to 8, also administered four times annually, measures instructional reading levels and improvements during the academic year.
Grades 3 and 4 showed 100 percent growth; grade 5, 91.7 percent; grade 6, 81.3 percent; grade 7, 86.7 percent; and grade 8, 68.8 percent. The numbers appear lower in later grades because there is less room to grow, and some students max out in their performance during the academic year.
As for STAR math scores, grades 3, 4 and 6 showed 100 percent growth; grade 5, 86.7 percent; grade 7, 88.2 percent; and grade 8, 94.7 percent.
Jill Patterson, maternity leave replacement for Kerri Lawler, supervisor of curriculum and instruction, made the presentation to the board.
“I think the school is showing a tremendous growth and improvement in their achievement,” Patterson said. “I attribute it to the teachers using data, using multiple forms of assessment, really getting to know the numbers as well as the story behind the numbers so they can inform their instructional practices to specifically align and differentiate based on the students’ needs.”
Superintendent Elizabeth Giacobbe also was happy with the benchmark results.
“I’m very pleased with the growth that we’ve seen so far this school year, and I’m hopeful that it will translate into our New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge test scores as well,” Giacobbe said.
The NJ ASK is a standardized test given to all public school students in third through eighth grades during the spring and is administered by the state Department of Education.
“First and foremost, I attribute it to the teachers’ willingness to learn how to manipulate the data and use it to drive their instruction, and everyone’s commitment to prove to everyone that Beverly City School is a great place to come to learn and work,” said Giacobbe, who has been superintendent for four years. “Every year we see more and more growth.”
The benchmark assessments allow teachers to see students’ strengths and weaknesses in real time, enabling them to tailor their instruction accordingly, she said.
Giacobbe said she is hoping to get the school out of focus-school status and into reward status in the coming years.
In 2012, the Department of Education classified Beverly as a focus school, which represents about 10 percent of schools with a graduation rate below 75 percent and the widest gaps in achievement between different subgroups of students.
A reward school has achieved high-proficiency levels or high levels of growth, including progress toward closing the achievement gap. This allows for a range of schools from across the state to attain reward status, regardless of their absolute starting point.
Rich Wolbert, president of the school board, said the district started the benchmark analysis two years ago.
“It’s a great indicator of where our students are going,” he said, noting that the district used to just rely on the NJ ASK test but that the results would come out too late in the year. “We can change what we’re doing in the classroom and focus on the things that are weaknesses for the children.”
Wolbert credited the dedication of the teachers for the success as well as students and families.
“Parents are the first educators,” he said.
Sean Patrick Murphy: 609-871-8068; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @SMurphyBCT
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