Student test scores improve

The latest Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test scores show the percentage of students proficient in reading and math at Princeton public schools is still below the state average, but the district’s math and test scores showed greater improvement rates than the state.
The latest MCA scores were released on Aug. 26 and were based on MCA III tests taken last spring.
The district’s science scores are higher than the state average of 53.4 percent and improved from 59.9 percent proficiency in 2013 to 61.6 percent in 2014. Students are tested on science knowledge in grades five and eight, and once in high school, said Julie Williams, the Princeton district’s new director of teaching and learning.
The district’s proficiency in reading rose to 57.7 percent, an increase of nearly three points over the 55 percent score the year before. While the state average for reading proficiency is at 58.8 percent, the state’s improvement in the reading scores only rose 1.2 percent, Williams noted.
Reading assessments are given to grades three through eight and 10. Williams cautioned in making conclusions about the reading scores because the state made its state reading tests more rigorous the year before.
Princeton’s proficiency in math rose to 56.2 percent, compared to the state average of 60.5 percent. But again the district showed greater improvement, rising 2.1 percent compared to the state’s average rise of 0.3 percent in math proficiency, Williams pointed out.
Students in grades three through eight and 11 are tested in math. A new version of the math test was introduced this year for 11th-graders, so it cannot be used for comparison to previous years.
Because of the state changing its tests over the years, comparing data from year to year is difficult, and while scores are useful in planning, student progress should not be gauged by test scores alone, Williams said.
The Princeton district also does its own testing throughout the school year to measure academic progress in students, which guides teachers on what interventions to take for helping students who are behind. The goal is to better prepare them for when the MCA tests arrive in the spring, Williams explained.
Something new this year in schools across the state is a requirement that eighth-graders will have to take an Explore test and sophomores will have to take a Plan test, both tests this coming November.
Williams said that while those tests are a new requirement for the state, Princeton Public School students had already been taking the tests. She explained that these are college diagnostic tests.
“Also in grade 11, all students will be expected to take the ACT plus writing test … as a statewide test administration next April 28 at no cost to the students,” Williams said.
Princeton is also a testing site for the ACT test, so students who wish to pre-take or re-take the test will be able to do so by registering through http://www.actstudent.org and choosing Princeton as the site option, Williams added.
“Princeton Public Schools is committed to implementing a district improvement plan that reduces the achievement gap of our students when compared to statewide averages,” Williams continued. “Staff (members) at each site are committed to plans to identify and implement instructional strategies that raise the proficiency and increase growth in all student groups.”

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