AYP no issue for Metamora Grade

DeWayne Bartels

When the state issued its annual School Report Cards Metamora Grade School superintendent Martin Payne did not have any explaining to do.

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade passed on the state tests.

The school district made Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind.

When asked if he was pleased with his students performance on state tests Payne said, “Absolutely. These are really strong test scores. Growth in learning is what we want. Test scores are one way to determine that.”

Ups and downs

The scores were high and did show overall improvement from 2010.

The district saw overall performance on all tests rise from 91.7 percent meeting or exceeding standards to 92.4 percent in 2011.

No Child Left Behind required at least 85 percent of students meet or exceed standards for the school district to make AYP.

However, in individual classes there were ups and downs.

For example:

• In grade 3 Illinois Standard Assessment Test reading scores fell from 93.2 percent in 2010 to 90.2 percent in 2011.

• In grade 3 math scores on the same test fell from 96.6 percent to 96.4 percent.

• In grade 4 the same test showed overall went up from 90.8 percent to 92.4 percent.

• In grade 4 ISAT math scores rose from 96.4 percent in 2010 to 96.7 percent in 2011.

• In grade 4 ISAT science scores rose from 93.1 percent in 2010 to 95.7 percent in 2011.

• In grade 5 ISAT reading scores jumped dramatically from 80 percent in 2010 to 90.7 percent in 2011. This jump was even more dramatic when looking at the scores in 2009. The district in 2009, with this class, had a score of 88.5 percent, then dropped to 80 in 2010, an 8.5 percent fall. Then the district turned around with an 10.7 percent jump in scores in 2011.

• In grade 5 ISAT math scores rose from 86.5 percent in 2010 to 90.7 percent in 2011. Here again the district made a stride to the positive after a dramatic fall. In 2009 this class had a score of 97.9 percent before tumbling to 86.5 percent in 2010.

• In grade 6 ISAT reading scores fell from 96.8 percent in 2010 to 91.2 percent in 2011.

• Grade 6 ISAT math scores fell from 97.8 percent in 2010 to 81.3 percent in 2011.

• In ISAT reading scores for grade 7 reading scores fell from 91.5 percent in 2011 to 81.3 percent in 2011.

• In ISAT math scores for grade 7 the scores rose from 95.1 percent in 2010 to 96.7 percent in 2011.

• In ISAT science scores for grade 7 scores fell from 97.6 percent in 2010 to 92.2 percent in 2011.

• ISAT reading scores for grade 8 rose from 89.4 percent in 2010 to 96.5 percent in 2011.

• In grade 8 ISAT math scores also rose. The scores went from 89.4 percent in 2010 to 96.6 percent in 2011.

In perspective

Payne said he does not mind that parents and the media closely scrutinize the test results. But, he said, one thing has to be clearly understood.

“When you look at test scores for a grade and compare them to another year you have to realize you are not looking at the same children,” Payne said.

“Parents do look at scores. They are so publicized,” Payne said.

“I don’t often get questions from parents about our scores. I try pro-actively to put the information into perspective for them.”

Payne said he does not look at a score falling in a subject in a class as a concern. He said it is rather a reflection of where more attention to a particular subject is needed.

Payne said he and the teachers cannot look at scores as complete validation or condemnation of their teaching methods. So much, he said, is dependent on the strengths and weaknesses of the students themselves.

But, Payne added, a drop in scores is not something to be taken lightly.

“If we see drops we take that seriously,” Payne said. “We enhanced reading in the past when we saw test scores drop.”

Conversely, he said, the teachers and administrators enjoy seeing positive jumps in test scores.

Yet, Payne said, a single year’s data is not indicative of how a school or district is doing.

“It takes several years of data to really assess what’s going on. “You have to develop trend data. Then you ask, ‘How can we improve on that trend?’” Payne said.

“This testing is a one-time look. But, this is how the state assesses us.”

No fear

Payne said he is not concerned as the requirement to make AYP jumps to 95 percent.

“That does not scare me. Pretty soon we’ll be at a 100 percent requirement. The idea that any school will make 100 percent is ridiculous,” Payne said.

“When they tell me we’re not doing a good job with 90 percent plus of our students meeting or exceeding standards, I’ll just throw up my hands.”