District tests reveal positive results

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District scored at or above the state average overall on last year's assessment tests, according to a report recently released by the district.

"On all our measures, we score better than the state average in reading," said Paula Christensen, the district's curriculum and assessment director of elementary education.

"I think we're doing very well, but we're looking to improve," agreed Sam Stewart, curriculum and assessment director of secondary education. "We're not going to be satisfied with our status quo."

The district report, presented to the school board Aug. 19, analyzes school- and districtwide scores on the Terra Nova, Analytic Writing Assessment, Alaska Benchmark Examination and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM). Results of the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam will not be available from the state until mid-October, Stewart said.

These tests are administered to various grade levels throughout the year to measure basic skills in reading, writing, language arts and math. The scores help both the community and the state assess the level of education at district schools and help the schools develop plans to improve curriculum.

Some tests, such as the DIBELS/CBM also help identify children who may need extra attention and aid in particular areas, Stewart said.

"Each school gets this information," he said. "They dissect it, then go through to determine strengths and weaknesses."

That information is then used to create the school development plans. Schools used data from 2000-01 tests to determine plans for the 2002-03 school year and are in the process of analyzing 2001-02 data for 2003-04 plans.

For example, in the past, math computation has been identified as a weak point throughout the district though students were scoring well in math concepts, Stewart said.

"We've been working on giving students more practice, and it's showing."

An assessment of scores over the last three years, however, shows that fewer students are scoring in the bottom percentile in that category -- demonstrating improvement over time.

Past strengths and weaknesses revealed by the assessments also were used to develop intensive summer reading programs offered this year.

"We're really looking at working with the kids who are not quite making it yet to make sure they will be able to pass," Christensen said.

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