BELMONT — Students in the Shaker Regional School District scored consistently above the state average in English Language Arts in the recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Tests and were for the most part on par with the state students in math.
In Grades 3 through 8, the Shaker students scored on average seven points higher in English Language Arts than students in the rest of the state. In grades 7 and 8, 73 and 74 percent of the students respectively scored at or above proficiency, handily exceeding the average scores for other seventh- and eighth-grade students in the state.
Math scores were a little more mixed, with grades 6, 7 an 8 performing higher than the rest of the state, while the fifth-graders appeared to struggle with the math tests with only 26 percent scoring at a proficient or better level. Sixty-eight percent of the English Language Arts students scored at proficient or above, ahead of the state average by five points.
According to the draft minutes of the Dec. 8 School Board meeting where the scores were presented, Middle School Principal Aaron Pope said he and his staff were providing extra focus on the students in the fifth grade and working toward increasing all of the student's scores.
Overall, the elementary students who were tested did about the same as the rest of the state. In English Language Arts, the third and fourth graders scored 63 and 64 percent respectively at proficient or above while the balance of the state's students averaged in the middle 50s.
In math, 46 percent of the third-grade students scored at proficient or above, while the state average was 53 percent. In Grade 4, Shaker students and state students scored 49 percent proficient or above.
Belmont Elementary Principal Sheila Arnold and Canterbury Elementary School Principal Mary Morrison said students practiced a great deal for the tests, but school board members said they are still concerned with the math scores that were slightly below the state average. These were the first tests taken on a computer rather than pencil and paper.
The only high school students tested by the Smarter Balanced were the juniors, who will be tested by the SATs next year for their levels of proficiency. Shaker students scored 38 percent proficient or above, but Principal Dan Clary told the board that even though those scores were slightly higher than the state average, he would like to see them improve. He said the same thing about the English scores that showed 49 percent of the juniors were proficient and above while the state averaged 50 percent. Draft minutes of the meeting reflected that he has sent a letter home to parents explaining how the school district will help the student's improve their scores.
In science, students are still tested in their junior year with the NECAP tests and 52 percent of Shakers students who scored proficient or better, besting the state by 17 points.
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