Assistant Superintendent Julie Germann described positive trends and highlighted some ongoing concerns in explaining the scores to board members at their August meeting.
The composite score for the district showed there was adequate growth in scores to meet the standard needed for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the benchmark established under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Monett had the highest composite score to date of 55.3, scoring in the top two of five levels on the test, above the state average of 52.7.
Broken down by campus, most of the schools passed the AYP standard but had varying degrees of success bringing each of the subgroups on each campus up to targeted achievement. The best showing was at the middle school where the composite score in math for the campus showed 75.8 percent of students scoring at the top two levels, a jump of 16.5 percent from last year. In communication arts, the middle school had 66.4 percent scoring at the top levels, also enough to meet the standard.
All of the subgroups of students at the middle school showed a record level of achievement in both math and communication arts. The most striking achievement was for students with limited English proficiency in communication arts. Scores have gone from no students scoring in the top two levels five years ago to over 45 percent reaching the top two levelslast spring, equating toa jump of 26.5 percent in one year.
|Other campuses had varying degrees of success. Central Park Elementary, for example, was the only campus to not reach the AYP standard for math, though the campus as a whole and all the subgroups scored at record levels.||Germann said analyzing the numbers is always a challenge. Test results come back so late that no corrective action is possible to improve what a child has learned that year. The only significant test score declines were at the high school. Germann cited the school population and some staffing issues as factors.|
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) wanted all students to be tested last spring, even special education students who may have never taken the course involved had to be tested. Performance for special education students at the high school dropped by over 9 percent in math, roughly comparable to the number of students with individualized education programs in special ed.
"It's not fair to hold kids accountable for information they haven't studied," Germann said. "But we don't view that as an excuse. A lot of districts were babysitting significantly disabled students. That was the point of No Child Left Behind. It's been good for kids. Everybody does a lot better job paying attention to subgroups who are more challenging and try and provide an education for them."
Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann developed a way to compile the test results in a graph that shows how the same students perform year after year, and how that performance rates against the state average. In every case where performance could be traced back at least three years, Monett numbers increased every year. The comparison with state numbers consistently narrowed.
"What we're seeing is the longer kids are in the system, the more they widen the gap," Germann said. "We have a lot of pride in narrowing the gap each year."
Several performance challenges are being addressed. Germann said the end-of-course exams at the high school are too new to have fully assessed what they mean. In some cases, only one person teaches that subject. It can take time to level out test results if that teacher changes.
In the past, an alternative test had been used to test some of the special education students that was more geared at their performance level. The state dropped the alternative in favor of having all students take the same test.
Germann said Special Services Director Elaine O'Neal has started a new program in communication arts for fifth and sixth graders with individual education plans. She expected to see significant changes from the new approach in the next few years.
Another new program with a strong intervention element for differentiated learning has been started for kindergarten through fourth grade. Germann expected all children, not just those having difficulties, would benefit from this strategy.
A chart was also developed showing how Monett scores compared with the seven other schools in the Big 8 Conference. Monett ranked third in communication arts and fourth in math scores in the top two levels.
"We are one of the top 10 districts in the state with a high percentage of Hispanics," Germann said. "So in overall population and how they score, we rank in the top two or three in the state. The schools with larger Hispanic populations are in Kansas City and St. Louis and are much larger than us. If DESE wants to play the numbers game, we can show we're doing pretty good across the region and the state.
"We look at what we're doing with the population by subgroup and how we're ranked against the Big 8 and Central Ozarks Conference schools," Germann said. "Our subgroups and white population ranked in the top five of 24. We have a lot to hang our hat on."
This year all the Big 8 Conference districts ended up being classified at level three for corrective action for shortcomings under the No Child Left Behind Act. While specific schools in the R-1 District passed, the district as a whole is among the 84 percent in the state classified for improvement.