2012-10-25 / News

Test scores decrease dramatically

Science marks drop 15 percent from last year

The School Committee at its Oct. 18 meeting learned that science scores were down in both the fourth and eighth grades, compelling curriculum director Kathy Almanzor to highlight steps that the school district can make to improve in that area.

Recent results released by the state Department of Education shows that 74 percent of fourth-graders at Melrose Avenue School are proficient or better, while the marks at Lawn Avenue School were more alarming. Less than half of the eighth-graders in Jamestown are considered profi- cient by the New England Common Assessment Program.

The 48-percent proficiency rate for eighth-graders is 15 percent worse than the 2011 score of 63 percent. It is the worst such drop in the state: South Kingstown (13 percent) and Middletown (12 percent) are the only other schools with double-digit decreases. The five most improved schools in the state are Highland Charter (27 percent increase), Chariho (19 percent), the Compass School (17 percent), Paul Cuffee Charter and Bristol-Warren (both 16 percent).

The results show that 27 percent of eight-graders statewide are proficient or better, a number that Jamestown is still well ahead of.

While the drop isn’t a “red flag,” Almanzor says it is a concern. To improve scores, she made some suggestions. Among them, Almanzor said she would like to make curriculum adjustments to the seventh-grade energy unit; make content additions to the eighthgrade units on weather and properties of matter; implement science writing in kindergarten through second grade; have teachers in kindergarten through sixth grade attend a writing workshop at the Guiding Education in Mathematics Network in January; and have a middle-school specialist visit Jamestown classrooms to facilitate science lessons. Also, Almanzor said that four teachers have already attended a full-day workshop on science writing.

Scores for the fourth grade were a little better, but still not optimistic. In 2011, Jamestown fourthgraders were 77 percent profi- cient or better. This year the score dropped 3 percent. (Statewide, 46 percent of students scored profi- cient or better.) The best fourthgrade scores came from New Shoreham, which watched its profi ciency rate jump from 46 percent to 83 percent. The 37 percent jump is the biggest difference – increase or decrease – in either grade. The largest decrease in the fourth grade was Foster (23 percent).

While the one-year trend from 2011 to 2012 isn’t positive, the overall five-year report on NECAP science scores is still excellent for Jamestown. Today, Melrose Avenue School students are 32 percent more proficient than they were in 2008. That is the highest increase in the state. For Lawn Avenue students, they are 18 percent more proficient than they were five years ago.

In the latest scores, 6 percent of both fourth- and eighth-graders in Jamestown are proficient with distinction. That is the highest rating that the NECAP allows.

In other news, Superintendent Marcia Lukon reported that the official enrollment figures from Oct. 1 are lower than anticipated. State aid is based on the number of students “in seats” on that date. Preschool enrollment is lower than projected, so students on the waiting list will have the opportunity to fill the empty slots. Also, enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade was 24 students less than expected. Lukon said the biggest discrepancy is from the 11 fewer Jamestown students who opted to attend charter schools rather than North Kingstown High.

Also, Lukon said that the Educator Performance and Support System, an online tool implemented by the state’s education department, has proved to be unreliable. Lukon said that Jamestown will not require its teachers to use the software – which is supposed to help educators maximize their time and resources – unless the problems are resolved in a timely manner.

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