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Big Drop in Troy Scores Prompts Board Action

The district is "trying to figure out what's going on" with the surprising decrease in test results, Supt. Don White said.

Second-graders in Troy School District 30C will test differently for this winter’s regular assessment to address a serious drop in past scores as they transition to third grade.

The school board made an administrative decision to intervene sooner than later at Wednesday’s monthly meeting when Supt. Don White provided a detailed analysis of student test scores over the past three years since the district began administering the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP).

The assessment every fall, winter and spring provides a benchmark for how Troy students rank in math, reading and language compared to the norm.

“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on here” in regards to the transition from second to third grade, White said. “I’m pleased we’re meeting NWEA growth, but still hope we can push farther.”

His report states: “Troy students exceeded expected growth in math and language, and with the exception of grade 2 in reading, the combined percent of Troy students that scored ‘above the expected growth range’ or ‘within the expected growth range’ exceeded the 70 percent target provided by NWEA.

“Troy students fell below expected growth in reading. However, there seems to be an anomaly in the test results for the lower grades (1-2) that I have not been able to resolve. For example, the average local growth for all 2nd grade students decreased by 1.9 but the average expected growth for all 2nd grade students was 11.3.”

The MAP report illustrates a drop in scores for students as second-graders in the spring 2012 to third-graders in fall 2012, the high-school graduating class of 2022.

Fewer students rank in the top 25 percentile in that period. In math, for example, 176 students ranked in the top 25 percent in spring 2012, compared to only 75 students this fall.

Reading scores for the same students, however, remained steady for the top 25 percentile, but showed significantly more students -- 111, up from 57 -- ranking “below the norming mean” in the bottom 25 percent, or “1st quartile.”

“That falloff from second grade to third grade is shocking,” said board treasurer Anne Carney, who made the suggestion to change how second-graders test this winter instead of implementing any changes in fall 2013. “We can’t wait a whole year to figure that out.”

In the past, grades K-2 have taken a “primary assessment” by listening via headset to test questions while grades 3 to 8 have taken a “survey of skills” by reading the test on screen. This winter second-graders will move into the 3 to 8 category.

“We believe some of these shifts in performance are related to the type of assessment being used,” White said. “Now that we are moving from an assessment with audio to one that requires more independent reading at the second grade, it will be a few test cycles before we have information that can help us understand how to best respond to our students’ needs.”

Likewise, the district is in the midst of cycling through current data with last year’s transition from the ISAT aligned assessment to a Common Core aligned assessment. A whole new way of teaching, the Common Core standards have been adopted by 48 states in preparation for nationwide implementation in 2014-15.

“There’s a huge shift” in how math is taught with Common Core and it may take another cycle of assessments for scores to improve, said Anne Gmazel, assistant superintendent for educational achievement.

With the switch to Common Core, White said students’ skills are a big focus. Teachers are having ongoing “data conversations,” he said, to examine skill sets and consider the type of data necessary to accurately measure student achievement “on a weekly basis even.”

The board discussed the possibility of switching to another method of assessment.

“Is (MAP) giving the teachers the data they need to drive improvement in the classroom?” White pondered. “I wouldn’t add anything. We don’t need more data,” just the right data.

White’s MAP report is available at http://donwhite.troy30c.org/images/stories/documents/boepackets/2012_10_17_6_Press_Packet.pdf.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, after a 45-minute closed session, the board approved White’s recommendation to dismiss Troy Hofer Elementary School custodian Scott Silverman for “performance reasons.”

“He wasn’t able to perform the job as expected,” White said by phone Thursday morning, adding he could not elaborate on details.

Silverman started as a part-time custodian in August 2000 and became a full-time employee that November.

In other personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of custodian Elena Olivares and Troy Middle School wrestling coaches James Cacciatore and Douglas Heppner.

The Troy School District serves 4,600 elementary and middle school students from portions of Joliet, Shorewood, Channahon, Crest Hill and unincorporated Troy Township.

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