Benchmark scores increase across board
District progress monitoring scores increased significantly for the 2013 fall semester, with 29 subjects scoring first through fourth in the district.
Academic Achievement Specialist Maggy Watson said the administration introduced a new system, Mastery Check-In/Learning, schoolwide where teachers verify their curriculum matches that of the district’s and other teachers’.
“We’re just doing new stuff, like all the teams on campus are doing Mastery Check-In which makes sure everything in the curriculum is aligned,” she said.
Algebra II scores jumped from sixth to second place between the spring and fall semester of 2013. Algebra II K teacher Robin Rasco said she felt she always followed the new system even before it was implemented.
“The Mastery Learning stuff I felt like I was already doing it, making sure it fit and was aligned,” she said.
Rasco said many of the test score jumps can be seen in the on-level classes.
“But the on-level kids are really making the improvements that are visible through the data,” she said. “Their [DPM’s] are all on one level. Now in L-level they may set aside a day to study for the DPM and maybe that’s helping.”
World History scores jumped from 7th to 3rd in the district. World History AP teacher William Lally said the world history department began rewriting tests and narrowing the amount of subjects covered in class.
“The idea behind that is to create more comfort for the test and I’m sure other subjects are doing the same thing,” he said. “We had to just talk about the necessary subjects.”
For reviewing, as some teachers do before the DPM test gets distributed, the district has simple guidelines.
“They [the district] don’t want you to basically change the numbers and ask the same questions, they don’t mind you reviewing certain concepts,” Rasco said. “They certainly don’t want you to just teach the exact test questions, which is reasonable.”
Sophomore Ian Sims said studying independently could sometimes prove difficult.
“I usually don’t review because the subject matter can be pretty broad so it’s hard to study on my own,” he said. “And sometimes we don’t even know we have one.”
Lally said test standards and versions changed between last semester’s DPM’s and the ones before.
“There’s an AP version and a K/L version,” he said. “It’s the same test but there’s a different passing proficiency and different standards to obtain.”
Algebra II teacher Myra Tate said the teachers tried to make their curriculum match up with the district’s.
“The district gave us a review sheet and we made sure we did it with our students,” Tate said. “We did it for multiple days instead on one day so students didn’t have to get all that information at once and a lot of practice.”
With new staffing and teachers this year, Rasco said score improvement could be because of new teaching styles.
“Maybe new blood is contributing to part of the success, having good teachers come in,” she said.
Lally said he felt students managed to become more familiar with the tests between each one.
“Overall from the first DPM in the mid-fall to mid-December students just become more comfortable with the material,” he said.
Tate said the grades and scores all depend on the students.
“Every year is a different group of kids and some years they’re more motivated and this year is one of those years,” she said.