2007-02-08 / Front Page

Test scores for island schools reflect high-performing rigor

By Michaela Kennedy

The New England Common Assessment Program this week released its results of the elementary and middle school statewide testing last fall, and Jamestown School students achieved scores well above the statewide average.

According to a news release from the state Department of Education, test scores in reading and mathematics have improved statewide, with 62 percent of students achieving proficiency in reading, and 53 percent of students achieving proficiency in mathematics. Writing was the only test category to suffer a loss of 5 percentage points, down to 46 percent profi- ciency.

Jamestown schools achieved a 78 percent proficiency in reading, 71 percent in mathematics, and 63 percent - grades 5 and 8 only - in writing. All scores reflect Lawn and Melrose Avenue schools' high performing status last year in the state as well as nationally.

The NECAP is the result of collaboration between New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island to create a set of assessments for grades 3 through 8 to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The NCLB says that all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Reports based on the NECAP tests provide information to schools and districts to better serve the academic needs of students and to evaluate and improve curriculum and instruction. The NECAP Student Report gives information about individual student performance for schools and parents or guardians.

According to the Guide to Using the NECAP Reports, parents and guardians are encouraged to contact the student's school for more information on his or her overall achievement after reviewing the student report.

A law mandating personal literacy plans for struggling readers in kindergarten through grade 3 passed in 2002 and went into effect in 2004, when it was also extended to grades 4 and 5. According to the Providence Journal earlier this week, about $13 million in state aid flowed to schools last year for literacy aid, enabling districts to hire additional reading teachers and literacy coaches, offer special training to faculty, and buy reading materials.

Jamestown School Principal Kathleen Almanzor noted that the schools have an assessment committee, with members from the School Improvement Team, to do an in-depth study of the NECAP results. A School Report Night, where the school will present the findings from the NECAP tests, will be announced for an evening in March. The meeting will be open to the community. "We're happy and excited about the results, but we still look for improvements to make," Almanzor added.

Almanzor also noted that the Jamestown district is unique in that every student receives an individual reading assessment at the beginning of the school year. "We do our best to create individual goals for every student," she said.

School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser noted that the highperformance of both schools "is a testament to the increased efforts of our teachers and administrators, who have created an individualized learning plan for every student."

Kaiser said that the administration understands from parental feedback that the district "must continue to increase the rigor of our academics."

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