The second year of Delaware’s method of assessing student progress shows improvement in some areas, but officials say achievement gaps are still a concern.
The Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) tests students in grades 3 through 10 during the school year. The 2012 findings released today show that more than 10,000 more students are proficient this year in reading compared to a year ago, while more than 9,000 additional students reached proficiency in math.
“We’re also seeing greater growth within the same school year than we saw the year before,” Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “When we look at how our students did in the fall of 2011 and now how they did in the spring of 2012, that growth we’re seeing is greater than the growth we saw the prior school year.”
73-percent of students were found to be proficient in reading this spring, and 72-percent were proficient in math.
The results were not as impressive in the areas of science and social studies. Science proficiency was 52-percent and social studies proficiency was 68-percent.
Addressing gaps in achievement
Murphy says challenges remain in addressing achievement gaps affecting students with disabilities.
“The fact that our students with disabilities are performing at lower levels than our students without disabilities is something that we’re all working on, and is a high priority” Murphy adds.
Gaps were most prevalent at the middle and high school levels.
State education officials have been reviewing the results in performance reviews in all 19 districts across the state, which Murphy says have experienced similar achievement gaps. “We are seeing pockets of schools and districts that have done some really good work in the area of special education, and are seeing the results of that.”
There was progress in narrowing achievement gaps based on race and income in reading and math over the course of the past year in grades three through ten.
Partnership Zone progress
The spring DCAS results also find that four schools identified as in need of improvement in the state’s Race to the Top initiative are making progress. Glasgow High School, Stubbs Elementary School, Howard High School of Technology and Positive Outcomes Charter School demonstrated iimprovements in reading and math at rates exceeding the state’s overall progress.
“We are excited by these initial gains,” Murphy said. “The schools’ implementation of their individualized plans is resulting in robust instructional practices that are leading to academic growth.”
“Our entire learning community is excited about our progress. It truly was a collaborative effort,” Stubbs Elementary School Principal Merridith Murray said.
Delaware was one of the first two states to qualify for Race to the Top federal funding, and received $119-million to be directed toward improving the quality of education. Since the initial round of PZ schools was announced in 2010, several more have been added including three in the Red Clay School District.
“I think being in a Partnership Zone really energized the staff,” Red Clay District Superintendent Mervin Daugherty said. “We are very excited about being able to implement some of the programs.”