School principals and the BVSD’s superintendent reported on the latest results in the state’s academic testing.
The board reports on Colorado Measures of Academic Success testing, PSAT and SAT standardized testing and the district’s own Content Targets and Assessment Checklist, or CTACH testing at the district school board’s Oct. 14 meeting.
Superintendent Lisa Yates compared the difference between the CMAS and CTACH tests as “apples and oranges,” but also as being like the difference between a text message and a face-to-face conversation, with CTACH gathering data on competency or mastery and thinking processes.
CMAS tests math, language arts
The CMAS tests are given at the state level from 3rd-8th grade in math and language arts.
In these tests, BV schools remain “just below the state average” this year, Yates said. However “we’re closer to the state averages than we have been. At the very least, we’re seeing upward growth on that Colorado state test.”
“No matter what we think of the state tests, we at least want to be matching state averages, and right now in language arts and math, we are about 2-to-6 percentage points below that,” Yates said. “Our exception is in 6th and 8th grade math. In there students are scoring 2-to-6 points above the state average … that’s a good mark that we’re seeing some growth in going above the state in math.”
PSAT, SAT scores above national average
At the high school level, students take the SATs and, before that, the PSATs. In those national tests, the high school is scoring above average, Yates said.
The 9th grade median student scored in the 54th percentile, the 10th grade median student scored in the 64th percentile and 11th grade median student scored in the 68th percentile.
“That’s a pretty high number for a small, rural town,” said BVHS principal Kevin Denton.
CMAS grades expecatations
CMAS tests grade students on a 1-5 scale of exceeds expectations, met expectations, approaching expectations, partially met expectations and did not meet expectations.
“What we find is we have very few students who are falling into the exceed … we have a good percentage falling into the meeting category,” Yates said. A large number of students in BV schools, she said, are evaluated as approaching expectations.
“Our ‘not meeting’ in many cases is fewer than the state,” she said.
The approaching expectations grade presents an interesting case for BV schools, Yates said, as its own four-point CTACH grading does not have approaching grade.
“You either met or you did not meet,” she said. “And I think one of the things we could be seeing at the state is that when you have that middle-of-the-line bucket, there’s a lot that falls into it, and now what do we do with those numbers. We have more in approaching than the state and fewer in the partially meeting than the state.”
CTACHs: Math lags behind language arts
The CTACH results, as well as CMAs, show that students generally are not performing as well in math than in language arts.
“The percentage of students who are scoring three or fours, which is meeting or exceeding are typically higher than the percentage of students who score four or five on the CMAS,” Yates said. “It’s the same as looking at grades in a class. I would say if we took all the kids in the class who were scoring As and Bs and Cs, they would be more than those who are meeting or exceeding expectations on the CMAS.”
The CTACHs are more like a conversation than a text message, Yates said, because students are evaluated by the teachers who have watched them grow throughout the year, rather than through the snapshot of a standardized test.
The local assessments are also more granular, she said. Rather than only grading a student on ELA (English Language Arts) the CTACHS look at the elements of language education like writing, reading, speaking and listening individually.