MEEKER I Meeker Superintendent of Schools Chris Selle returned this past weekend from the Colorado Association of School Boards’ (CASB) annual convention in Colorado Springs along with Meeker School Board President Bud Ridings and newly elected board members Kevin Amack and Davey Smith.
After his return, Selle stated, “Student learning should always be the No. 1 goal of any school district. One of my primary functions, if not the primary function, is to ensure our district is positioned to meet that goal.
“In an effort to move forward with that goal, it is important to understand where we are, which is the intent of the baseline assessment on Meeker student achievement I gave the Meeker Board of Education last month,” he said.
In October, Selle had the BOE approve a set of goals for him for this current school year. The goals cover four primary areas: communication, public relations, student learning and the district strategic plan.
The goal with regard to student learning is to improve student achievement results.
By last month, Selle was to have reviewed current data reflecting student achievement that could be used as a baseline for assessing achievement over time. Selle provided the board with this achievement assessment for their November meeting.
Selle couched his report as preliminary. He had reviewed the testing results from the state’s Student Assessment Program (CSAP), Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP), Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), Colorado Measurement of Academic Standards (CMAS), American College Testing (ACT), Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP), ACT Aspire, and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) available to the district.
The data Selle reviewed was from 2009 through what’s available from this current school year.
General observations that Selle made included, typical of small rural schools, he said, that there is significant year-to-year variation in the results, which gives a certain unreliability factor to analysis. He also felt his analysis underscored the concern we may give too much emphasis to standardized test results.
We know, Selle indicated, that certain groups of students tend to demonstrate higher or lower academic achievement, which can skew small sample sizes. In the process, Selle maintained, the “daily great work by our teachers in the classroom” can be devalued.
Selle reported that it’s really quite difficult to identify trends in many cases due to changes in assessment tools and practices since 2009.
Selle suggested that the district has probably “not used ACT Aspire enough, nor has ACT Aspire developed enough tools for us to observe trends with this data,” but the test does provide good information that can guide better instruction.
Positive observations Selle made included that through the DIBELS data “we’ve shown that the district can move students from ‘Well Below’ to ‘Below’ and ‘Below’ to ‘Above.’”
Also, the district’s median growth percentile (MGP) generally exceeds the adequate growth percentile (AGP), which is a good thing, but this doesn’t hold true for secondary math. Meeker students are generally at the “typical growth” range on state assessments, and proficiency on state tests has been the highest in the past couple years.
The district mean RIT scores (short for Rasch Unit) are higher than the national norms on two-thirds of the MAPs, which is very positive, and growth scores are greater than the national averages. A RIT score is an estimation of a student’s instructional level and also measures student progress or growth in school through time.
When it comes to observations regarding areas for potential improvement, Selle identified that score growth of certain student subgroups like free or reduced lunch students, minorities, disability students and English Language Learners seemed to lag.
Furthermore, Selle indicated we need greater consistency with tests and local testing practices in order to increase reliability. The district’s ACT scores are consistently lower than state averages in all areas—and the district has identified this as an area for emphasis and improvement. Meeker’s recorded median growth percentile from 2009 to 2014 only met the 50 percent growth percentile half the time.
Meeker’s growth for secondary math was never at or above the adequate growth percentile (AGP), but Selle noted that this is common across the state due to the design of the math tests and the definition of AGP.
As a final statement in his report, Selle noted that state and national norms should be minimum expectations. With our student demographics, Selle suggested that nearly all metrics should be consistently above state and national norms.
Selle said he expects the analysis of student achievement by his administration to continue on a consistent basis.