Both gains and losses in standardized state tests taken last spring were reported to the Purdy R-2 Board of Education at its October meeting. Purdy High School Principal Bob Vice had a breakdown of scores from the district's Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) report, prepared as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Overall the district did not meet goals set by No Child Left Behind in communication arts and math. Total scores for communication arts improved over last year for the fifth consecutive year but not enough to keep up with the targeted goal, which also increased.
Vice was particularly pleased to see the students classified as economically stressed score high enough to pass the communication arts standard for the first time since 2005. Hispanic students as a group showed significant improvement for the second consecutive year and met the standard.
Math scores, which have changed very little in the last four years, dropped below the 2006 mark as the state standard continues to increase. Again, the economically stressed students showed enough improvement to meet the standard while white students as a group slipped a bit in their performance.
Vice observed that Purdy students have typically done well on multiple choice math questions and not as well on performance event questions.
"We saw almost the reverse this year," Vice said. "Teachers have been working on performance event questions. Students did well on what they had worked on."
This year the Comprehensive School Improvement Program revision would emphasize how to improve math performance.
Vice pointed out all Purdy students completed the tests for the third consecutive year. The district passed the standard for attendance for the fifth year in a row. The graduation rate of 94.8 percent is the highest its been since Vice started at Purdy in 2001, and it also met the targeted standard.
Results were mixed at the various campuses. On the high school level, Vice said the communication arts proficiency score showed "tremendous improvement," going from 22.4 percent to 65.6 percent in the first year that testing shifted from the Missouri Achievement Program (MAP) exams to end-of-course tests. There were gains for all subgroups, especially for the economically challenged, whose numbers scoring at the proficient level went from 16.7 percent to 54.2 percent.
Math scores hit a four-year low at the high school. Only a few students classified as white and in the economically stressed group even scored in the proficient range.
Overall middle school numbers fell below last year's in both math and communication arts. American Indian students were the only ones showing gains in communication arts. Math scores generally dropped only slightly with economically stressed children showing the only significant gains. The middle school did pass on the attendance standard.
Like the middle school, students at the elementary school fell under the standard for communication arts and math after meeting the target in the previous year. The economically stressed group met the mark in communication arts. Native American students and those in special education showed significant gains, while other communication arts scores slipped. Math scores were generally down, but up for the economically stressed students who reached the state standard.
"No Child Left Behind has required schools to improve and think up new strategies," Vice said.
"It's made us better educators," said Jeff Swadley, elementary principal. "It's brought about some great programs. We're able to pinpoint from the data where Johnny is lacking."
As the deadline for all schools to teach all students equally approaches in 2014, Vice observed it will become clear that all students are not able to work at grade level despite the goal. Board President Randy Henderson said it was "just a matter of time" before all districts ended up on the "needing improvement" list.
Swadley added that Missouri has been recognized nationally as one of the top four states working to make its test difficult, showing students are performing at a standard equal to those anywhere else. He felt a national exam would emerge after No Child Left Behind expires.