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Dover Post
  • State’s students show gains in reading comprehension; math proficiency declines

  • The results of the latest DCAS testing cycle were released Thursday by the state Department of Education.
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  • The results of comprehension assessment tests released by the state Department of Education show Delaware’s students have held on to gains in reading proficiency made since 2011, although they slipped slightly in mathematics aptitude from scores received in 2012.
    The testing information from the 2012-2013 Delaware Comprehensive Student Assessment System, or DCAS, was made public July 18. Access to the data also was provided via the education department’s website.
    “We’ve seen that the overall results for reading that the proficiency was sustained from the previous year, and that actually, compared to … 2011 … we’ve seen great gains and we were able to sustain those from 2012 to 2013,” said Brian M. Touchette, director of accountability resources for the Department of Education.
    Although mathematics comprehension did go down, it still was significantly higher than in 2011, when the DCAS replaced the former Delaware Student Testing Program, Touchette said.
    In 2011, 61.5 percent of the 76,262 students in grades 3 through 10 met reading proficiency standards; that rate went to 73.24 percent in 2012, and slipped to 72.39 percent of the 78,865 students tested in 2013.
    Seventh- and 10th-grade students showed one- to two-percentage point gains from their 2012 scores, while the remaining grades showed either even progress or a slight decline.
    The biggest decline was for third-graders, who dropped from 76 percent to 71 percent.
    This testing session also was an opportunity to measure growth targets, or how well students progressed throughout the school year. The DOE uses this information to measure how well schools progress in educating their students.
    The number of students meeting the growth targets in reading increased from 65 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2013, Touchette said.
    In mathematics, 62.16 percent of the 77,206 third- through 10th-grade students tested met mathematics proficiency standards in 2011; that number increased to 73 percent in 2012 but dropped to 69.98 percent of the 79.402 students tested in 2013.
    Mathematics proficiency levels dropped by one to three percentage points for all but third-graders; those students showed a decrease of four percentage points.
    Overall, however, Delaware’s students gained two percentage points when measured for meeting state growth targets, Touchette said. Those numbers went from 60 percent to 62 percent.
    The state measures readiness for college by the number of students scoring in the advanced range, and those measurements for reading increased for middle- and high school students.
    The biggest jump there was for 10th-grade students, which jumped from 42 to 48 percentage points.
    Students scoring in the advanced range for mathematics, however, dropped across the board except for ninth-graders, who increased their comprehension levels by one percentage point.
    “While we didn’t see the same gains in mathematics, we were able to sustain the advanced score increases that we had, again from 2011,” Touchette said.
    Page 2 of 2 - While the testing results showed at least two-thirds of students were proficient in math and reading, the results for students tested for science and social studies skills were not as encouraging.
    Only fourth- and seventh-graders were tested to determine skills in social studies, with 69 percent of fourth-graders showing proficiency; 60 percent of seventh-graders were considered skilled in that area.
    Fifty percent of fifth- and eighth-graders were considered proficient in science, with that number dropping to 42 percent for 10th-graders, although that number is up from 40 percent in 2011.
    Touchette said some of the numbers from the reading and mathematics areas may not accurately students’ true levels of proficiency due to the wide expanse of time that passed during the first testing session.
    The exams are supposed to be administered at the beginning of the school year, but there were delays statewide due to a number of issues, including availability of the computers used to give the testing, he said.
    Actual testing took place between Aug. 15 and Oct. 19, and students that took the exams in later sessions might have scored better than those tested earlier because they would have learned more.
    “Results can vary, depending on when testing occurred in those windows,” he said.
    Students were given the same tests twice again in the spring, with the DOE counting the higher scores, Touchette said. Scores are generally higher on the second try, he added. It was the springtime scores that were included in the July 19 testing results package.
    Students were only tested once to determine their science and social studies scores.
    Overall  results of the 2012-2013 testing are available at http://www.doe.k12.de.us/default.shtml.
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