KCPS maintaining student achievement goals

Kent County Board of Education President Joe Goetz discusses student achievement data during an Oct. 25 workshop.

ROCK HALL — The Kent County Board of Education late last summer agreed to set a series of achievement goals for the current school year and with the first round of local assessment data in hand, members have decided to stay the course for now.

During a workshop meeting Monday, Oct. 25, board members reviewed data trends from local assessments given to students this fall. The workshop was a followup to one held in August at which the achievement goals were set.

“When we met in August, we had an opportunity to look at our strategic plan and at that point we shared our goals for the strategic plan and specifically spent time discussing academic achievement,” Kent County Public Schools Director of Teaching and Learning Gina Jachimowicz told board members Oct. 25.

As shown on the presentation, Kent County Public Schools aims to see proficiency in English language arts increase from 31% to 41% by the end of the current school year. The goal for math is to see proficiency rise from 16% to 30%. The school system also wants to see achievement gaps in identified student groups drop by 50%.

In her presentation, Jachimowicz spoke about the local testing program — the NWEA Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments — being used to determine student proficiency. With the assessments being given three times a year, she presented data from the fall exams for grades three through 10.

She said the information from the assessments allows the school system to review individual student progress, look at content areas like English language arts and mathematics and chart student group information.

KCPS administrators presented two sets of student data at the Oct. 25 workshop: the students in the 61st percentile or higher and those in the 41st percentile or higher.

That split is based on previous state assessment models on which students scored between a 1 and a 5. Students at level 1 did not yet meet expectations, level 2 students partially met expectations and those who scored at level 3 were approaching expectations. Level 4 was meeting expectations and level 5 was exceeding exceptions.

Looking at the fall data for English language arts, 30% of students in grades three through 10 scored in the 61st percentile or higher, what would have been a 4 or a 5 on previous state assessments. The scores show 46% of students fell in the 41st percentile or higher, the equivalent of a 3, 4 or 5.

In math, 14% scored in the 61st percentile or higher and 30% scored in the 41st percentile or higher.

“Mathematics has been our greatest area of need and struggle,” Jachimowicz told board members.

She said the school system is working now with revamped resources, training efforts and support, including hiring a mathematics coordinator two years ago. She said the challenges typically start with fractions and higher level math around the fourth grade.

“All roads lead to algebra. The bottom line: We know that is where we struggle the most,” Jachimowicz said.

The data also shows the fall MAP scores dipped from last spring’s results. Administrators said the numbers are characteristic of the “summer slide,” the expected learning loss that comes from students being out of school for several months.

Board member Nivek Johnson said he appreciated the achievement goals that had been set at the start of the school year. He said they provided educators with tangible targets, rather than a blanket goal along the lines of every student meets proficiency with no plan on how to achieve that.

Board members were asked whether the improvement goals set in August should be adjusted based on the fall MAP data.

“I personally don’t think the goal needs to be changed. I think we have to have something. I always say we strive and see where we come up short,” Johnson said.

Board member Wendy Costa voiced her concerns about ensuring early learners were more proficient in areas like reading by the end of third grade.

“If that happens, these other numbers are going to look a lot better,” Costa said.

The board ultimately agreed to maintain this year’s set of achievement goals for now.

“I think we stay the course with the goals listed,” Board President Joe Goetz said, adding that they can be adjusted as needed based on additional data.

The presentation materials on the assessment data are available via the KCPS Board Docs website under the Oct. 25 agenda. Go to go.boarddocs.com/mabe/kcps/Board.nsf/Public.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 8. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with the board immediately going into closed session; the open session will resume at 6:30 p.m. Board meetings are held at the KCPS Central Office, 5608 Boundary Ave., Rock Hall.

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