Delaware students across the board are performing better in mathematics and English language arts, according to preliminary 2016 state test results for grades 3 to 8 recently released. The gains are in almost every grade and subject and across almost every student demographic, including students with disabilities, English learners, students from low-income families and those of most racial and ethnic subgroups. Students reaching proficiency levels increased by 2 to 5 percentage points in nearly all grade levels in both subjects.
“We are pleased with the progress and look forward to continuing gains,” Governor Jack Markell said. “This progress reflects hard work by children and educators to meet higher standards as we aim to ensure every student is prepared for success in the next grade and, ultimately, after graduation. We know a lot more must be done to reach our goal and that means reaffirming our commitment to giving all students, and their teachers, the support they need to reach their potential.”
This is the second year Delaware administered the Smarter Assessment. Statewide, nearly 55 percent of students in third through eighth grades were proficient or better in English language arts this year compared to 52 percent in 2015 for the same grades. In math, almost 44 percent scored at the proficient level or higher, up from 41 percent in 2015.
State assessments measure students’ progress toward the academic goals laid out in Delaware’s Common Core academic standards, which are designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in jobs and college. The standards, which were established by a diverse group of educators and others in the education community through a national initiative Markell co-chaired, set learning expectations for what students should know or what skills they should master at the completion of each grade level. Individual districts or charter schools determine their own curricula and decide how those skills and knowledge are best taught.
The state assessments ask students to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving. By focusing on skills most important for students to succeed in college and the workplace, the results provide teachers and families with a snapshot of children’s progress, helping to identify school and student strengths and determine subject areas in which students need support.
While no single test can provide a complete picture of achievement, annual assessments give families and educators important information about student progress and areas for improvement, especially when combined with student grades and teacher reports.
This year, Delaware educators are able to access deeper-level Smarter score information than last year through the state’s Smarter Analytics system. Using Smarter Analytics, teachers have the ability to determine each student’s understanding of specific items taught in English and math classes, which helps them better serve individual student needs.
Scores for multiple other standards-based assessments, including SAT and in-class assessments, are available in Smarter Analytics as well, providing a more-comprehensive look at student assessment scores and demonstrating the importance of an entire assessment system over any one test to help guide instruction.
For more information, visit the Delaware Department of Education.
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