By Gareth Henderson
Woodstock Union High School and Middle School are showing improved scores on statewide assessment tests, though officials said there was always room for more progress.
The New England Common Assessment Program results for 2010 were released earlier this month. The NECAP tests are given every two years to grades 3-8 and 11 in Vermont and around the region. The test results are laid out in four levels: substantially above proficient, proficient, partially proficient and substantially below proficient.
WUHS juniors showed “significant gains” in reading and math while writing scores stayed level, according to Principal Greg Schillinger. Now, school departments will analyze the results and identify specific areas that could improve.
“There’s more work to be done for sure,” Schillinger said.
In reading, 85 percent of the WUHS eleventh-grade students were proficient or substantially above proficient. Fifty-eight percent of the juniors were in those two categories for writing, with 40 percent partially proficient. Although the math scores showed improvement, 27 percent of the juniors who took the test were substantially below proficient in this category.
When asked about this number, Schillinger noted that not only had the scores improved, but they were also better than the combined statewide results. Overall, Vermont had 62 percent of its juniors in the bottom two categories for math, compared with 49 percent for WUHS. Schillinger also said it’s important to put the NECAP in perspective.
“You can’t use one test to measure how a school is doing,” he said.
Schillinger added that part of the school’s review of the results, will be asking teachers if the test results match up with academic performance in the classroom.
Woodstock Union Middle School was also pleased with its scores, but as Principal Dana Peterson noted, “We can always do better.”
Eighty-five percent of the WUMS students taking the NECAP were proficient or better in reading, and 75 percent scored in the top two categories in math. Sixty-one percent of the WUMS students scored in the top two categories in writing, with 32 percent coming in as partially proficient.
Based on these results, Peterson said the school will be focusing more on writing. He said WUMS students were strong on multiple-choice questions, but the “free response” writing questions needed work. Peterson said sentence, paragraph and essay construction would be important to focus on.
In addition, Peterson said WUMS would be introducing some “new approaches for significantly under-performing students.”
When asked about the recent improvements in the NECAP scores, Peterson said having strong district-wide elementary school instruction and a cohesive K-12 curriculum goes a long way.
“We know we can build on that solid foundation,” he said.
Peterson added that innovative instruction strategies and access to technology have also helped. He also said there has been more work with data analysis across the grade levels in the district.
See next week’s issue of the Standard for information about elementary school NECAP results in our towns.
This article first appeared in the February 17th print edition of the Vermont Standard.