Archive for Thursday, August 21, 2003

Early school programs aim to improve scores

August 21, 2003

In most cases, state assessment scores reflected well upon Eudora students, Superintendent Marty Kobza said. And in areas where they didn't, he said programs in place would help boost scores in the future.
In each grade of students tested in reading and math, usually more than 60 percent of the students achieved the proficiency level or higher. The exception was high school, where proficiency dropped to about 57 percent.
Yet the Kansas State Department of Education expects just 29 percent of high school students to meet at least the proficiency level in math, and 44 percent of high school students to meet at least the proficiency level in reading. That puts Eudora ahead of the state's expectations.
A quick survey of area schools shows although in some cases proficiency is higher than Eudora, the high school scores are generally lower than younger students in the same district, reflecting the trend seen in Eudora, too.
"It looks like the struggling is in high school," said Board member Mark Chrislip. "It's just odd, because middle school is up there, and high school is down here."
Part of that had to do with the nature of the test, Kobza said.
"The way the test is scored, math is always going to be a low number," he said.
Kobza said the wording and difficulty of math questions made a difference, too. Moreover, student involvement played an important role.
"(The test) has nothing to do with graduation," he said. "If I'm an 11th-grader and my approach to this test is different than if I'm a seventh-grader," he said. "That's not an excuse."
Kobza said the district took an active role in improving scores.
"The teachers got together and really did some good things with math," he said.
Eventually the district would begin seeing the effects of programs implemented in the younger grades, like the Jumpstart summer school program that had 38 first-, second- and third-graders spending an hour on math and an hour on reading during the sessions. The students also read and had a writing assignment each day in addition to working on problem solving and math facts.
"We want the kids to be ready for school -- that's our goal," said program coordinator Janell Barnow.

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