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From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson: State Board of Education To Release Test Data Nov. 7

From the Desk of David Burleson Oct. 31, 2013:

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

On Nov. 7, the North Carolina State Board of Education will release student test data from the 2012-2013 school year.  These test results are from testing completed in May and June of 2013. This release is almost six months after students in North Carolina completed testing. This test data reflects a major change in North Carolina’s accountability measures. The data is based on a new curriculum, the Common Core in Reading and Math. The tests were developed by the state of North Carolina and to only be used for two years until the state transitions to the Smarter Balance tests, given by multiple states beginning in 2014-15. The scores are also reflective of new achievement standards that are much higher than on prior EOG and EOG tests as well as different item-types and questions that included higher order thinking skills. As a result, scores across North Carolina have fallen tremendously from those in previous years.  Depending on the grade level, the percentage of student’s proficient dropped 16-25 percent in reading, 27 to 44 percent in math, and 9-33 percent in science statewide.

Some points to consider when examining this year’s test scores:

  • North Carolina public school students are now required to meet a higher standard of proficiency on their End-of-Grade (EOC) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests.
  • In the past, proficiency standards only addressed what students needed for success at the next grade level. The new proficiency standards address how ready students are for college and careers, and whether students are on track to be ready for high school graduation.
  • Whenever new standards are set, test score results indicate a drop in scores.   
  • It is important to note that students continued to grow academically in 2012-13, even though the newer achievement standards will show fewer students meeting the standard. These new scores simply mean that we are expecting students to reach higher levels of learning.
  • North Carolina has experienced decreases in proficiency levels when new standards have been set, at least twice before in the last two decades. 
  • Consider, “Just as in the high jump, when an athlete clears the bar, the bar must be raised.  The athlete will miss the bar the first few tries, but will eventually clear the higher bar, demanding it to be raised yet again.”
  • Properly aligned assessments give everyone a clearer picture of how well students are prepared to enter college and the work force.  The goal is to support student learning/achievement and to support teachers.
  • It is extremely important to note that in this transitional year, these scores will NOT affect students’ grades or current placement.  The 2012-13 scores are a baseline for the new assessments and the state’s new accountability model.
  • It is ineffectual to compare this year’s scores with last year’s scores as apples to apples.  The tests administered in 2012-13 were different.  They measured NEW content standards.  These new scores have established a new baseline for proficiency.
  • North Carolina is not alone in this transition.  New York and Kentucky were the first two states to go through this, as they implemented their new assessments in 2011-12 and experienced similarly dramatic drops in test scores last fall.  Many states across the country will report similar results this fall, reflecting the adoption of more rigorous standards in many states.

Avery County’s scores are comparable to the state average as we are above the state average in most grade levels in reading, and either at the state average or slightly below in mathematics.  Upon reviewing the test data, it is evident that students in North Carolina, and Avery County, reflect lower test score results.  Further review of the data, revealed that the majority of our students did make growth from the 2011-12 school year to the 2012-13 school year.  Student growth in on any scale is a result of the diligent teamwork of our faculty, staff, students, parents and community. Our goal is to work with our students to help them master all skills enabling them to achieve well on any required test, but we especially want to prepare them for life as productive successful citizens.

As Superintendent and community member, I can testify that we all understand the importance of providing a quality education for each of our students.  Our mission stands firm to graduate every student from high school globally prepared for life in the 21st century. We will continue to provide our students not only the best education possible but also to provide them a competitive edge when they leave high school.  We are committed to work with each student and their family offering each graduate resources to be gainfully employed or to attend the college of their choice.  It is our desire to work collectively with our community to ensure that each student is prepared.  I encourage each member of our community to join with us to provide every resource and opportunity possible for our students.

Your input is important to me and I look forward to working with each of you.

Thank you for supporting the students of the Avery County Schools.