Drop in overall scores motivates district to continue to find innovative ways to serve students
Klamath County School District’s 2018-19 state assessment testing scores improved in reading and writing (English language arts), and mathematics from the previous year for third-, fifth- and 11th-graders, and its 11th-graders scored well above the state average in both subjects.
But overall, the district saw a year-over-year decrease in its scores, dropping by about 2 percentage points from 53.8 percent to 51.7 percent in reading and writing, and from 39.6 percent to 37.3 percent in math. That trend also was seen at the state level where scores overall remained flat or dropped slightly in most categories.
Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District, called the overall assessment results disappointing because the district’s teachers work hard to get positive student results. “However, this type of challenge motivates us to continue looking at new and innovative ways to best serve our students,” he said. “Improving student performance scores will be an ongoing, comprehensive district effort. We will begin by looking at teachers who are highly successful, then build on those effective strategies.”
The district’s overall scores were slightly below the state average – 1.7 percentage points lower in reading and writing and 2.1 percentage points lower in math. Of the district’s 11th-graders, 77.1 percent scored as proficient or above in reading and writing, 10.6 percentage points higher than the state average. In math, 36 percent of 11th-graders were proficient, 4 percentage points higher than the state average.
KCSD’s third-graders scored well in math – hitting 49.4 proficiency, a 3.8 percentage point improvement and 3 percentage points higher than the state average for that grade. Fifth-graders improved slightly from the year before –2.2 percentage points in reading and writing, and 0.4 percent points in math – but remained slightly under the state average.
But other grades saw a drop in proficiency scores. Fourth-graders dropped by 8.5 percentage points in reading and writing, and by 6.7 percentage points in math. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders also saw a drop.
Jeff Bullock, KCSD’s secondary curriculum director, was pleased with the high school assessment results and the work the district’s high schools are doing to help students meet graduation requirements with college-ready skills. “Knowing our graduation rate exceeds the state average and our assessment scores in high school also exceed the state average demonstrates a consistent approach to student success,” he said. “Our teachers and building administrators are doing great work.” But, he added, the district has yet to see the same results in its junior high school scores. “This raises both questions and concerns,” he said. Several years ago, the district adopted a curriculum called “Big Ideas” for high school math but did not adopt new materials for junior high. “I think we need to take another look at this decision and consider “Big Ideas” for junior high as well,” Bullock said.
“In language arts, I need to talk with our teachers and building principals to see what resources might support learning in every classroom. With additional state resources promised to school districts, I think we can make a difference when we work together.”
Jennifer Hawkins, elementary curriculum director, says she’s concerned to see the scores decreasing. “We consistently examine our practices in attempts to improve instruction and we’ll continue to do that,” she said.
“I think principals and teachers in our district work hard to give students the best education possible.” “It’s hard to put your finger on any one variable that impacts scores,” she added, “which is why our focus remains on improving instruction as a whole.”
Hawkins pointed out that the year-to-year comparison of scores does not measure the same cohort of students. or example, the decrease in fourth-grade scores this year is in comparison to scores of the cohort of fourth-graders from the year before, a cohort that scored well.
The Oregon Department of Education released the scores Thursday (Sept. 19). Students took the Smarter Balanced tests in spring of the 2018-19 school year. A Smarter Balanced science test also was given for the first time. Results are expected to be finalized and released later this year. The tests assess student progress on Common Core standards and the likelihood students will graduate high school ready for college or a career. Students take the tests in grades 3-8 and 11, and they are graded on a 1-4 scale, with 4 being the highest. Students who score a 3 or 4 on the exams are considered proficient.
Smarter Balanced tests require students to write, to think critically, and to solve multi-step problems. The state and school districts use the tests to look at overall student achievement and determine their levels of mastery. The data are broken down by schools, grade levels, and groups of students, including English learners and students with disabilities, providing districts a way to evaluate how students are being served.
For more information, contact:
Marcia Schlottmann, public relations, Klamath County School District