Math scores flat, but Vt. students boosted reading skills in tests
Educators foresee ‘lot of work to do’
MONTPELIER - New test results released yesterday showed improvement in writing among Vermont public school students but indicated that high school students on average continue to struggle with math, with only 35 percent proficient or better in it.
The 2009 results of the New England Common Assessment Program exams, given each fall to students in Grades 3-8 and Grade 11, show that 69 percent of 11th-graders were proficient in reading and 51 percent in writing, but only 35 percent were proficient in math. The figure was the same last year.
Students in third through eighth grades met or exceeded the standard in reading, while just 66 percent did in math, officials said. The lower grades were not scored on writing last year.
“These results show that we continue to improve instruction and slowly but surely see better outcomes for students,’’ said Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca. “Efforts to improve instruction in schools are paying off for kids. However, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure this is happening in all Vermont schools, not just the ones like U-32 that have risen to the challenge.’’
Eleventh-graders at U-32 Junior Senior High School in East Montpelier had the best overall improvement in the state, with scores going up 16 percentage points in reading, seven in math, and 21 in writing over last year, education officials said.
Among eleventh-graders at U-32:
■ 79 percent met or exceeded the standard in reading, compared with 69 percent statewide.
■ 50 percent were proficient or above in math, compared with 35 percent statewide.
■ 65 percent were proficient or above in writing, while 51 percent were statewide.
Education officials point to the focus by the school, in the Washington Central district, on writing. They say teachers got students to demonstrate what they have learned and prepared them for the tests.
To get the students to take the tests seriously, the school held assemblies and provided food and drink during testing, officials said.
“They have a good program in Washington Central from top to bottom, but they just had a sense that their high school kids weren’t taking the tests seriously in the past,’’ said Michael Hock, assessment director for the Vermont Department of Education. “They were pretty sure that kids were more skilled than the test scores were showing. They really made a good effort this year to make sure the kids took the tests seriously, to understand why it was important.’’