Trimble County takes steps to improve state test scores
Thursday, March 07, 2013 10:00 AM
School board members heard reports on the steps Trimble County teachers and students are taking to improve state test scores for this year.
Eric Davis, the district's education recovery specialist for mathematics, talked at Wednesday's school board meeting about implementing new classroom initiatives and individual goal-setting. He also presented updated information about what scores might look like once schools receive state scores in the fall.
"I think we know math is our biggest weakness at the high school," Davis said.
Davis said the high school is the priority to increase scores, but he also visits other schools to meet with teachers and offer advice on how to improve classroom instruction.
"We're really working with the kids," he said, noting each freshman has chosen an adult to be a mentor.
Students will meet weekly with their mentor to go over test scores, grades and any problems they might be having.
Davis also noted several mathematic standards changed this year, making it difficult for teachers and students to make the adjustment within a year's time for the testing requirements.
"We just got new standards," he said. "These standards are hard."
Davis also discussed the categories of accountability with the school board members.
Trimble County High School students compare about the same or higher than some of the surrounding schools in three categories, yet the high school compares much lower in two categories.
"Our growth (category) was one of the highest in the state," Davis said.
The high school needs to address the college and career readiness component and the graduation rate component, which are the lowest two pieces of the accountability model for the school. As the district's recovery specialist, Davis tracks data showing what scores might be for this year.
"As of today, we have 42 of 84 senior that are already college- and career-ready," he said.
Last year, the school's scores showed only 31.9 percent of students were college- or career-ready. This year's score will increase to at least 50 percent and has the opportunity to increase more by the end of the school year.
"I'm very, very happy with the way the college- and career-readiness (component) looks this year," he said.
The graduation rate looks to remain the same, or possibly slightly lower, for this year.
"That's our biggest area of need," Davis said. "That's the one that scares me a little bit."
Still, Davis hopes that interventions - such as the mentoring program - will help encourage students to complete their high school education on time.
"If we can continue on the path we're on, we'll get there," he said.
The district currently has educational recovery specialists working with students in both language arts and mathematics. The specialists will help the school district for the next three years to increase state accountability scores.
Rebecca Moore, the district's instructional supervisor, also gave school board members data pertaining to test scores throughout the last seven years. Data showed the percentage of students meeting English benchmarks on the EXPLORE and PLAN tests have increased, as well as the percentage of students meeting mathematics benchmarks.
The percentage of students meeting the English benchmarks have increased significantly - nearly 15 percentage points on the EXPLORE tests and 26 percentage points on the PLAN tests - reports showed.
"We are not making the gains (in mathematics) that we are making in reading," Moore said.
The EXPLORE benchmarks in mathematic increased by about 12 percentage points, while the PLAN benchmarks increased by about 15 percentage points over the last seven years.
"I think this shows we are getting more and more kids ready for these benchmarks," she said. "We still have a long way to go."