09 August 2005

Look for the Silver Lining...

Now that I'm somewhat over the sticker shock associated with the 2005 Science WASL scores, I'm trying to dig out some good news. I visited with the district Data Queen today, who told me not to be depressed...that I should just look at the scores as "My Challenge." Lucky me! (as my Sweetie well knows)

Anyway, there are a few good things that I've picked out of the data so far. One area of focus over the last year or two has been on Inquiry and helping kids write their ideas. Eighth graders have shown remarkable gains, with only a slight decrease in two of the eight areas they are scored. One attribute has shown a gain from 7.6% to 45.4% of the student population. We have also focused on teaching kids to write to the prompt. This, too, appears to have paid off for eighth graders: we have doubled the percentage of students who max out on the points.

I wish I had more information for the tenth grade version of things. But the state only provided information on one short answer item and no extended response items for that exam. Bummer. The good news that I do have for that grade level is that in looking at the cohort information (how kids did when they were in 8th grade vs. how they did this past spring as 10th graders), there was a significant increase in the number of kids who met the standard (even though our overall percentage decreased from 2004 sophs). So, we are moving more kids up and over the bar.

The Data Queen also shared that it appears that while eighth grade scores in science will decrease by about 3 points statewide, our district showed an increase by that much.

So, why are we still not doing as well as we'd like? And what's the deal with the sophomores? I have more data to peruse, but at this time, it looks like a content problem. Maybe getting the scope and sequence in place will fix some of that. The other part is, of course, instruction and student learning. We are going to have to change some of what we do in order to "tie" things together better for kids. At eighth grade, a kid is responsible for knowing all of the science content they had in grades 6, 7, and 8. Can we help students encode this information and keep it fresh for three years (and beyond)?

Lots of work for me to do. Good thing the district is now going to give me more than one hour a day to do it.

No comments: