The State Mastery and Capt test scores have been released and Coventry is showing improvement. But is that the whole story or is our foundation of learning weak? Improved test scores are always welcome in every school district but a closer look gives us more information. While not all scores are up the direction in Coventry is in terms general positive but may show signs of basic weakness.
Educational testing is primarily done in math, reading and writing for grades 3 through 8 with additional testing in grades 5, 8 and 10 in science. Over the past three years grades 5-8 have shown a steady trend of improvement in math, reading and writing with only this year a lack of improvement in math as test averages dropped nearly five points from 89.5 to 84.7. While in the 5th grade math scores improved over the same period form 66.9 to 83.4. It looks like the middle school is moving in the direction all parents like to see for their children.
In any learning environment education is a building block approach as students expand their educational experience forward each year based on acquired knowledge from the past. This brings a spotlight on the educational foundation our students in Coventry are receiving in their formative elementary years
The grade 4 test scores are not moving forward in step with the upper grades math scores are nearly stagnant from last year at 77.1 to this year at 77.5. There is more concern when you look at the reading and writing scores. While last year reading score jumped from 61.4 to 76.8 this year it has fallen back to 64.7. Writing showed a similar result last year scores jumped from 64.1 to 75.9 and this year they have also fallen back to 68.2.
The scores may be telling us more about our system of education if we look closely at the scoring patterns. One group of students may just be a bit above another on average. This brings into question is the test score for the group now in the fifth grade a naturally higher anomaly and not a real reflection of better performance by staff?
Let’s take a look at the third grade for a more complete picture before drawing any conclusion. The scores for the last three years look like this:
2008 2009 2010
Math 71.2 72.4 75.4
Reading 66.7 59.6 67.5
Writing 77.4 68.0 56.8
It would appear that math is showing a slow minor improvement, reading is stagnant and writing is showing a major sign of weakness.
If students can not communicate the written word, if their creativity in writing skills are below standards they will be at a great disadvantage as they develop their skills in other areas. Essay questions, job resumes, letters of communication and college applications all depend on writing skills. If students have a weak foundation upon which to learn it is vastly more difficult to raise their level of performance in later years.
While the Board of Education has failed in their duty to oversee the curriculum it is the duty of every parent to oversee the performance of their own child. It is your duty and responsibility as a parent to demand that the building blocks of learning be strong and that the measured results reflect the level of performance you expect and demand for your child.