Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe today announced statewide results from the 2016-17 Smarter Balanced Assessments, a set of computer adaptive tests for English Language Arts and Mathematics developed by a national consortium currently made up of 15 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education. This was the third year Vermont students, statewide, participated in the Smarter Balanced program.
These tests, which were administered this spring to students in grades three through eight and grade 11, were designed to assess student mastery of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards are deliberately ambitious, to ensure we have high expectations for our students. Over time, the results will provide community members, teachers and parents with an increasingly reliable and accurate snapshot of children's mastery of these standards as well as the progress of our schools at improving the performance of our students relative to these standards.
Vermont's statewide results:
2017 Smarter Balanced Math Results
Total Proficient and Above: 52 Percent, Proficient Score: 2436, State Average: 2438
Total Proficient and Above: 47 Percent, Proficient Score: 2485, State Average: 2476
Total Proficient and Above: 42 Percent, Proficient Score: 2528, State Average: 2505
Total Proficient and Above: 39 Percent, Proficient Score: 2552, State Average: 2519
Total Proficient and Above: 44 Percent, Proficient Score: 2567, State Average: 2541
Total Proficient and Above: 41 Percent, Proficient Score: 2586, State Average: 2555
Total Proficient and Above: 37 Percent, Proficient Score: 2628, State Average: 2576
2017 Smarter Balanced English Language Arts Results
Total Proficient and Above: 49 Percent, Proficient Score: 2432, State Average: 2425
Total Proficient and Above: 49 Percent, Proficient Score: 2473, State Average: 2466
Total Proficient and Above: 55 Percent, Proficient Score: 2502, State Average: 2508
Total Proficient and Above: 52 Percent, Proficient Score: 2531, State Average: 2531
Total Proficient and Above: 55 Percent, Proficient Score: 2552, State Average: 2555
Total Proficient and Above: 55 Percent, Proficient Score: 2567, State Average: 2570
Total Proficient and Above: 59 Percent, Proficient Score: 2583, State Average: 2599
Like several other consortium member states, Vermont saw its scores decline slightly this past year.
"The relationship between strong academic skills and financial security and wellbeing is stronger than it has ever been, regardless of whether our students are headed to careers or college when they graduate. Tests don't measure everything that matters to a happy and successful life, including our ability to participate in democratic life, but there is no path to prosperity for students who don't master reading, writing and mathematics," said Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe. "We were disappointed to see those score declines. The achievement gaps between our vulnerable youth and students with greater privilege remain, and in some cases were narrowed, but this was largely a result of score declines for more privileged groups. As we work to implement more personalized learning and flexible pathways, we need to make sure we continue to challenge and engage all our students, while providing the extra support our more vulnerable children need to thrive. And, we need to support our schools and teachers as they figure out how to support better learning outcomes."
This is the first year scores will be used to calculate the growth measures (to show change in performance from the preceding year) in Vermont's state plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Federal dollars are used to provide extra support for students for whom those dollars will make the greatest difference. When all students have higher levels of mastery, we all benefit from that greater productivity, Deputy Secretary Amy Fowler said.
"We can't know for sure why scores declined, but several factors could contribute," Fowler said. "It could be in the last year people were focused on issues other than assessment. It could be as people are moving to implement the Education Quality Standards and other initiatives, attention has been diverted from improving learning, or any other number of factors."
The Smarter Balanced Assessments, which challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing and problem solving, are computer adaptive tests, administered online. Computer adaptive tests adjust the difficulty of the test question based on how a test taker responds to each successive question. If a student answers incorrectly, for example, the computer delivers a slightly easier question. If the student answers correctly, the next question is a bit harder. This process continues until the best possible prediction of a student's ability is determined. This means very few children take a test that feels too hard or too easy. It also means the test can provide a more precise measure of what students can and cannot do.
Individual school data is available on the AOE website (http://education.vermont.gov/documents/data-smarter-balanced-state-school-level-2017).
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