Testing scores drop statewide

Wil Petty Staff Writer

November 10, 2013

At the Nov. 4, meeting of the Ashe County Schools Board of Education, the board was updated on the district’s End of Grade scores following changes in testing and curriculum by the state.

“I think when we look at this comparatively with our region, we are on top of our game with this,” Superintendent Dr. Ernest Holden said.

The scores, which were originally supposed to be returned in October, were delayed by the state after seeing how drastic the scores changed.

“You are all well aware that the state department went to state board at their September meeting and presented the new cut scores and norms,” said Phil Howell, director of testing and accountability for Ashe County Schools. “The state department said, ‘No, go back to the drawing board.’”

Scores for the county are expected to be lower due to state curriculum changes and this being a re-norm year for all of North Carolina’s local education agencies (LEAs). Howell reminded the board and attendees of similar drops the LEA had when there were new assessments for reading and math.

“Not only do we have new assessments with new norms and cut scores, we’re looking at new content (and a) new curriculum across the board with Common Core state standards,” he said.

Data for the third grade end of grade testing (EOGT) is expected to be out by Nov. 18 or 19.

“With all of that said, I am happy to say that Ashe County is above the state average,” Howell said.

Howell said there were 26 data points given and Ashe County students were above the state average in 20 of the points. Two schools in the county exceeded expected growth.

When all of the data is made public, Howell plans to look at the LEAs that scored better than the county to see what resources they used for their teachers and students.

“All-in-all the scores aren’t what we’re used to,” he said. “We’ve been sitting on top of that mountain, and this is a totally new ball game.”

With re-norm years, it usually takes between three and five years for a LEA to see their scores return to normal. Administrators remain hopeful that more changes are not rolled out.

“Hopefully we’re going to get an opportunity for the dust to settle on this so we can concentrate on instruction rather than these changes and continue the success that we’ve become accustomed to,” Howell said.

The discussion also ventured into the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, another test which North Carolina may start using due to the Common Core standards.

“I personally do not want Smarter Balanced,” Holden said. “I think if you have that many changes in this short amount of time, it will take us instead of three to five years to get out of this, it will take even longer.”