State scores plateau, individual schools stand out in latest Delaware DCAS results

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The state Department of Education has released the results of the fourth year of the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) report.

The assessment collects and compares the test results of students in third through tenth grades in the areas of math, reading, science and social studies to help educators determine proficiency.

Overall, the report shows little movement between the 2013 and 2014 scores. According to the Department of Education, the lack of gains isn’t a bad thing, because curriculums are getting harder for students.

“We continue to raise the bar for our students especially with the implementation of Common Core and with these sustained results that we’ve seen over the last 2-3 years, we see the students really rising to those higher expectations,” explained Mary Kate McLaughlin, chief of staff for the Dept. of Education.

The latest results show that 72 percent of Delaware students in grades third through tenth are proficient in reading, the same percentage recorded in 2013.

As for reading performance levels, students in fifth grade preformed the highest while students in the ninth grade were the lowest performers.

In the area of mathematics, results showed that 69 percent of students were proficient, compared to 70 percent in 2013. A change of two percent or less is not considered significant according to the DDE.

Fourth graders had the highest performance levels in math, with 74.5 percent scoring in the “meets” or “advanced” categories while grade seven had the lowest, with 65.5 percent scoring in the same categories.

Students in grades fifth, eighth and tenth are tested in the area of science, which jumped from an overall 42 percent proficient in 2013 to 46 percent proficient in 2014.

Stand out schools

While the state as a whole showed little movement, the DDE highlighted several schools that made significant progress.

In the Red Clay Consolidated School District, the Lewis Dual Language School showed great progress among its fifth grade reading program.

In 2013, only 48 percent of students scored at the proficient level but the 2014 results show that they have grown to 66 percent proficient.

The school, which is one of the state’s Partnership Zone schools, implemented a complete turnaround model within the last year, according to McLaughlin.

“This shows that support and accountability really do matter,” McLaughlin added.

In the Cape Henlopen School District, Shiled’s Elementary recorded that 90.7 percent of students in grades third through fifth were proficient in reading with 72.1 percent scoring at the advanced level.

Districts are also working to close achievement gaps among students in various race and ethnicity groups and who have a lower socioeconomic status.

In the Smyrna School District, African American students at Sunnyside Elementary performed about 34 percentage points higher than the state average in math and 31 points higher than the state average in reading.

Education Secretary Mark Murphy said parents should take time to review the data with their schools.

“I would encourage all parents to meet with their schools, have a conversation about this data, to look at how their school is doing compared to the school down the street,” Murphy said.

New assessment coming

This will be the last year for DCAS as the state moves to the Smarter Balanced Assessment beginning next year.

“This will be an opportunity for their children to have an assessment that assesses more real world skills like critical thinking and problem solving,” Murphy said. “It will be a more sophisticated, richer assessment than we have been able to provide in the past.”

The “Smarter” test was designed to work with the Common Core initiative which the state began implementing this school year.

The full DCAS results are available online.

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