Science scores soar in elementary schools
Science scores soar in elementary schools
SCITUATE - This town is surely the home of budding scientists, judging from the results of the latest round of science testing in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) when district students made significant gains at the elementary level and scored well above state averages in all grades.
Lawrence P. Filippelli, assistant superintendent in charge of student testing, said he is excited about the positive results and contacted The Valley Breeze & Observer to better let the community know about the school system's latest success. He also has shared the results with parent-teacher groups.
Filippelli gave credit to teachers and students for what he called "tremendous growth" in the test results.
"Congrats to all of the teachers who set high expectations for their students and followed through with instruction and assessment," he said in a statement prepared for the School Committee. "We have good students, supportive parents and high-quality educators."
Filippelli also credited the professional development services the district received from the East Bay Educational Collaborative (EBEC), based in Warren, at a cost of about $16,000 that he said was completely covered by state grants. "No local dollars were spent," he said.
Students in Grades 4, 8 and 11 took the NECAP science tests in May of this year, and the results were sent to school districts in late September. Largest gains came at the three elementary schools, Hope, North Scituate (NSES) and Clayville. "(At) Level 4 (proficient with distinction), the state is scoring 1 percent and we are scoring at 2 percent," Filippelli said. "At Level 3 (proficient), the state is scoring at 40 percent and we are scoring at 74 percent."
Here are the Level 3 (proficient) scores for the three elementary schools in science tests taken in 2012 and again in 2013, so the gains made in the latest round of testing can be compared with the previous year: Hope, 2012, 63 percent, and 2013, 73 percent; NSES, 2012, 51 percent, and 2013, 69 percent; Clayville, 2012, 59 percent and 2013, 86 percent. These represent gains of 10 percent, 18 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Science scores at the middle school and the high school for the last two years, at Level 3 (proficient) are: middle school, 2012, 35 percent, and 2013, 51 percent; and the high school, 2012, 48 percent, and 2013, 47 percent. These scores represent an increase of 16 percent at the middle school and a decrease of 1 percent at the high school.
Regarding the high school scores, Filippelli pointed to what he called "an anomaly" to explain the 1 percent drop. The Class of 2013, which graduated in June, scored exceptionally high in science NECAP tests when they were juniors in the 11th grade, with a whopping 11 percent scoring at the highest level, Level 4 (proficient with distinction). "I do believe that the high school scores last year were an anomaly because of the cohort of students (high achievers)," he told the School Committee. Level 4 science scores at the high school in other years except 2012 ranged from 0 percent to 3 percent in 2013.
When compared to state scores, Scituate students really shine, particularly at the elementary level. Total proficiency (combining Level 3, proficient, and Level 4, proficient with distinction) at Hope Elementary School saw 75 percent of the test-takers reach this level. At NSES, 71 percent were totally proficient and, at Clayville, 86 percent. The state average for totally proficient at all elementary schools was 43 percent. Filippelli pointed to the Clayville score of 86 percent as one of the "major highlights" of the score report.
At the middle school, 52 percent of the 8th-graders scored at total proficiency, compared to 27 percent statewide, and, for the 11th-graders, 50 percent were totally proficient, compared to 30 percent of their statewide colleagues.
A key factor in raising the scores, according to Filippelli, was the work done two years ago with Scituate educators by EBEC, a group formed by eight school districts in the East Bay that sells its professional development services to others. "Two years ago, I hired EBEC to do a study of the standards and realign our science curriculum based on our NECAP data," he told The Valley Breeze & Observer in a telephone interview. "This was essentially a strand analysis of the NECAP data to understand where the gaps in our curriculum were."
Representatives of EBEC "sat with all of our teachers," he said, and analyzed "the (NECAP) question strands" as they relate to the science curriculum. Teachers then used these results to fill gaps in the "everyday science kit instruction," according to Filippelli. "It was a lot of work," he said. "It was a very close look at what we do in science."
Filippelli said he is now considering hiring EBEC again to work with middle and high school teachers on the science curriculum at the secondary level.