USD 234 proficiency data brings good news and bad

During their meeting Monday, the United School District 234 Board of Education received a report on grade proficiency data gathered from the 2014-2015 school year through the present as the schools continue to work on creating their own curriculum since the adoption of the Common Core Standards in 2010.

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Curriculum Director Nicki Traul said for the past four years, the district has been utilizing Literacy First, an initiative that has trained staff and provided guidelines for the curriculum as well as a method for gathering data from the schools.

At Winfield Scott for example, Traul said they gathered data concerning three different areas; the students’ phonological awareness, phonics and fluency. Using that data, they have been able to assess where the students are at in their learning as well as how efficient the use of Literacy First has been in improving those reading and comprehension skills.

At that school, Traul said they data has been extraordinary, even drawing visits from other school districts wanting to learn from USD 234. Assessment tests for those students also showed the majority of the students are at expectation.

Eugene Ware data also showed improvement in those areas of data in recent years, with fewer students needing specific attention in areas of phonics and understanding the English language.

“We always want to get better,” Traul said, but said there has been much accomplished that should be celebrated.

Traul also shared data gathered from assessment tests taken by the third through 12th graders in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, dividing the results in the areas of math and reading into quadrants ranging from below proficient with no growth year to year, up to proficient and showing growth. With only two years of data, Traul said she is uncomfortable emphasizing trends, but said one can see the beginning of certain trends through the facts gathered, which were not all positive.

With this data, Traul said they want to see students moving from less proficient with little growth to the proficient and growing areas. When they see significant numbers of students instead moving backwards, as was seen in some grades, Traul said that is cause for concern.

“There’re areas we really need to improve,” Traul said. “But there are areas that we really need to celebrate as well.”

After sharing the data with administration, Traul said she and Superintendent Bob Beckham were able to meet with those administrators to discuss why the data is the way it is among their students and what goals they might have for their specific buildings to bring improvements.

While the reading data shows some more positive numbers in proficiency and growth, Traul said the math students especially need to see improvement. While certain data shows there has been some growth, such as compared to national averages, Traul said they would like to see much more growth as some students appear to be stagnant instead of growing in their knowledge or remain below proficient.

“I didn’t get on the school board to build new buildings,” board president Jordan Witt said, saying the education of the students is their priority. “There’s areas on here I’m embarrassed about and we’re going to get better.”

Traul said this data helps her and others involved in developing new curriculum know where they need to focus. Some of that curriculum will be ready for use at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.



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