With the goal of ensuring that more students reach proficiency on the NYS grades 3-8 ELA and math tests, as well as Regents exams, OESJ administrators have committed to targets for student performance on the spring exams.
Interim Superintendent Joseph Natale suggested the targets as a way of sparking creative solutions to the test results.
“Administratively, we will establish targets, track them using data and then use the data to assess or adjust efforts toward better results. This requires teamwork and collaboration…think of the process as a journey, not a destination,” Natale said.
“All results, good or bad, are ultimately good because they provide us with feedback that can guide us, telling us what to do next and how to do it better,” he said. “If we consistently analyze what we do and adjust to get better, we will improve. Small, measurable successes achieved annually can release the optimism and enthusiasm that may be the most important ingredient in improvement.”
He noted that effective use of data can measure student progress, evaluate program and instructional effectiveness, guide curriculum development and fiscal allocations, promote accountability and maintain the district’s educational focus.
During the recent Board of Education work session about Student Achievement, Natale presented detailed figures from the 2017-18 testing results.
- In ELA, OESJ achieved 37 percent proficiency (those scoring in Levels 3 and 4) across grades 3-8. That was below several area districts and also below the state level (45 percent ) but above the rural schools (33 percent ) and BOCES (35 percent ) figures. Administrators agreed to set a target of 45 percent proficient on the 2019 spring exams for grades 3-8 as well as individual grade-level targets.
- In Math, OESJ achieved a 39 percent proficiency rate across the grades 3-8 testing. That compared with 44 percent across NYS, 34 percent at other rural schools and 32 percent at other schools in the BOCES. Administrators agreed to set a target of 45 percent proficient on the 2019 spring exams for grades 3-8 as well as individual grade-level targets.
- There were also specific targets for the NYS Regents exams taken by high school students:
- Algebra I – target 79 percent passing rate; this past spring, 64 percent passed the test, below the state (70 percent) and BOCES (65 percent) levels.
- Algebra II – target 93 percent passing rate; 100 percent passed in the spring, above the state (83 percent) and BOCES (80 percent) levels.
- Geometry – target 70 percent passing rate; 65 percent passed in the spring, below the state (67 percent) and BOCES (71 percent) levels.
- Earth Science – target 80 percent passing rate; 73 percent passed in the spring, above the state (72 percent) and BOCES (69 percent) levels.
- Living Environment – target 77 percent passing rate; 61 percent passed in the spring, below the state (73 percent) and BOCES (73 percent) levels.
- Physics – target 82 percent passing rate; 69 percent passed in the spring, below the BOCES (83 percent) level.
- English – target 82 percent passing rate; 75 percent passed in the spring, below the state (78 percent) but above the BOCES (66 percent) level.
- Global History – target 86 percent passing rate; 86 percent passed in the spring, above the state (73 percent) level.
- US History – target 100 percent passing rate; 90 percent passed in the spring, above the state (81 percent) and BOCES (85 percent) levels.
- Graduation rate – target 71 percent; 66.6 percent gradated in the spring, which was down from 70 percent in the 2016-17 school year.
- Classification of students with disabilities – target 18.9 percent; 19.9 percent of students were classified in the spring, compared with 17 percent statewide.
Efforts throughout the school district
Elementary Principal Jeanine Kawryga said the school has been working aggressively to move into a better position for the state testing in the spring.
With the assistance of instructional specialists from HFM BOCES, the school is:
- streamlining its reading and writing program for more consistency in instructional delivery;
- instructing teachers to update their grade-level curriculum to reflect the Next Generation Learning Standards;
- scheduling vertical team meetings to ensure that all teachers are discussing their needs with each other;
- striving for a more consistent use of i-Ready for reading and math; and
- phasing in of the Ready Math program in grades K-2 and 6-8 with grades 3-5 added next year.
Teachers performed a Gap Analysis of the state tests to see where students did well and not so well. There has also been additional training with a data specialist from HFM BOCES to streamline data collection to make it more meaningful. The school is also moving to a more inclusive classroom model with full inclusion scheduled for next year.
Junior-Senior High School Principal Adam Heroth pointed to several efforts in his building. The school will:
- continue to use i-Ready and Ready Math programs to better prepare students for Math and ELA content;
- conduct the grades 7 & 8 state tests through Computer-Based Testing.
- provide Academic Intervention Services (AIS) for students to provide them with more targeted instruction based on need;
- offer a 10th period “Advisory Period” that is used for AIS and for help with Regent’s preparation;
- analyze in and out of district data from previous Regents exams to determine where improvement could be found or where a greater focus is needed;
- offer Regents test prep in the time period leading up to the exams; and
- use district collected data with assistance from a data specialist from HFM BOCES to set goals for student achievement.
Kyle O’Brien, chair of the Committees on Special Education and Pre-School Special Education, said his department is ready to work at reducing the number of identified students.
“We are currently looking for more opportunities to mainstream our students with disabilities and anticipate doing so at an even greater rate next school year,” said O’Brien.
He also said the department seeks to change the way services are delivered to primary students by having the staff push into the general education classrooms, when appropriate.
“We feel this should go a long way in improving our classification and graduation rate in the short and long term,” he added.