CATS scores miss their mark

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By Becky Barnes

Harrison County fell just shy of its 2007-08 CATS goal in the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS).

Test scores released last week show Harrison County schools with a district score of 82, three points behind its goal of 85.

According to David Case, district assessment coordinator, this testing cycle was the last year of the adjusted and non-adjusted scoring. He explained that several changes have been made over the last biennium, which required a formula to be drafted that would best compare the two years.

If Harrison County scores had not been adjusted, the district would have met its goal with an 85.4.

They didnt want to start over, so they came up with a concordance table to compare the tests, Case said, noting that its basically the same as comparing ACT scores to SAT scores.

Were making progress, Case said. Were just not making it as fast as wed like to.

He said the bright spot in the results is that the overall number of novices has been reduced.

Thats been our main goal for the last four years and we have done that, he said.

Five of the counties six schools are below their novice goals for the 2007-08 cycle. Northside Elementary has only 6.42 percent of its students scoring at the novice level. Its goal was 6.50 percent. Eastside scored 6.84 with a 7.50 goal. Southsides goal was a little higher at 10.17, but students easily met the goal with a 9.61 percent novice level. Harrison County Middle also easily met the states goal at reducing novice scores with a 7.46 percent score to its 13.25 goal.

Although Westside missed its goal for the biennium, it did reduce the number of students scoring novice between 2007 and 2008. In 2007, 10.17 percent of the students scored at the lower level. In 2008, that dropped to 7.77 for a two-year average of 8.97. The goal was 8.87.

The high school missed its mark by over three percentage points. The novice level for the 2007-08 testing cycle was 18.63 percent with a 15.05 percent goal.

Our emphasis now will be to retain those numbers and to push our apprentice students to the next level, Case said.

The states goal is for all schools to have a 100 percent proficiency rating by 2014. The scoring levels are novice, apprentice, proficient and distinguished.

Northside Elementary students raised their scores in five of the eight testing areas. In reading, the scores jumped from 93.8 to 97.8; in math, from 95.97 to 104.5; science from 108.1 to 114.76; writing portfolio from 89.56 to 97.62; and writing on demand from 82.62 to 84.08. Scores lagged in social studies from 82.41 to 81.7; arts and humanities from 77.11 to 74.62; and in practical living from 114.63 to 100.44.

Northsides overall academic level increased from 91.5 to 97.4 (non-adjusted score) and 93.1 (adjusted).

Eastside Elementary raised its scores in math by six points, in science by five points, practical living by six points and writing portfolio by 12 points, Case said. Students overall adjusted scores raised from 88.8 in the 2005-06 biennium to 89.5 in the 2007-08 testing period.

Westside showed academic improvement in six of the eight tested areas. Students raised their scores in reading by one point, math by six points, science by six points, arts and humanities by eight points, practical living by two points and writing on demand by three points.

Even with the improvements, Westside dropped from its 2005-06 biennium score (87.4 to 86.4). It raised its scores between the 2007 scores and the 2008 scores (85.1 to 87.7).

Southside Elementary also showed improvement between the two years with an 82.7 in 2007 and an 86.4 in 2008. However, the combined adjusted score of 89.5 fell short of the 90.3.

Southside raised its scores in reading by one point, math by 12 points, science by nine points, arts and humanities by eight points and writing portfolio by 15 points.

According to Case, the middle school reached its second highest score ever in 2008 with an 80.2. However, its best year was 2007 with an 83.8. The combined score gave HCMS its highest score ever on a biennium with an 82.

The middle school improved its scores in two of the testing areas: practical living by five points, and writing portfolio by nine points.

Writing on demand proved to be the area most improved at the high school. Students raised the score by 15 points.

Case said the high school scores remain much lower than what would be desired. However, he said improvements are being realized.

As a district, Case said, the scores improved from the 2005-06 biennium (79.3 to 81.2). All of the schools in the district are classified as progressing toward their academic goals.

We have the tools in place ... the people, the training, Case said. Now we just have to roll our sleeves up and do it. If thats successful, our scores should rise closer to our goal of 100.