Multimedia Journalist

Blair Oaks science APR scores exceed expectations

he Blair Oaks R-2 School District’s science scores from the Missouri School Improvement Program’s Annual Performance Report for the 2018-19 school year were above state averages.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released science data Monday. DESE administers assessments to non-charter public schools to measure progress and accreditation. Scores for academic achievement in English, math; college and career readiness; attendance; and graduation rates were released in October.

Science scores were held until mid-November because a new test was administered by DESE this year. A more rigorous field test was given in the 2018-19 school year. When new tests are given, assessments cannot be compared to previous years, according to DESE.

Social studies scores were not included because a field test took place this year. New social studies assessments will be given in the 2019-20 school year.

The MSIP system calculates student performance data for districts. This year, the state changed the language used to measure schools’ performance.

Schools’ overall performance for the year make up their status. Progress reflects a school’s level of achievement on the Missouri Assessment Program test over a three-year average.

APR labels status and progress by whether schools are below expectations, defined as “floor;” near expectations, defined as “approaching;” meeting expectations, defined as “on track;” or exceeding expectations, defined as “target.”

Points range from 100-500.

Blair Oaks’ science academic achievement status scored as 385.9, in the highest level of expectation range.

Since a new science test was given this year, progress was measured by each district’s typical level of improvement, DESE Communications Coordinator Mallory McGowin said.

Blair Oaks’ progress was scored as “floor,” meaning DESE does not expect to see much improvement from the school’s current achievements.

Academic achievement is also tracked for subgroups such as low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, and black and Hispanic students who haven’t historically performed as well, according to DESE.

The Blair Oaks district’s subgroup achievement scored as 326.1, or meeting expectations.

Superintendent Jim Jones is pleased with scores from the science test and the APR overall, he said.

With the new science tests focused on applying skills compared to remembering knowledge, seeing advanced marks for fifth and eighth grades is crucial, he said.

“One of the things that we are most excited about is when we see advanced and proficient in fifth grade and eighth grade,” Jones said. “Kids are getting a great foundation in science.”

The test is given to fifth-graders, eighth-graders and high school juniors who take biology, said Blair Oaks Director of Curriculum and Assessment Tracey Burns.

Overall, 61 percent of students who took the science test received proficient or advanced scores, according to APR data. Subgroup achievement scores showed 38 percent of students performed at the same level.

The state proficient or advanced total was 41 percent, McGowin said.

Subgroup achievement totals were unavailable at the time News Tribune requested them.

“We’re pleased with all of our scores,” Burns said. “All of our scores are above the state average, but especially in fifth and eighth grade.”

The district gave freshman students the optional physical science test, which also yielded good scores, Burns said.

About 37 percent of test-takers scored proficient or advanced, Burns said.

“I think it speaks highly to teachers that they are really laying that foundational groundwork for applied skills beyond just knowledge,” Burns said.

The next step is for the district to break down the scores and make improvements in the classroom, Jones said.

Other APR data for the Blair Oaks district, as previously reported, includes:

• English scores were exceeding expectations and math scores were meeting expectations. The state’s average for English and math were approaching status.

• Attendance and graduation rates were exceeding expectations. The state average for attendance was exceeding expectations, while graduation rates were meeting expectations or “on track.”

• Blair Oaks college and career readiness for college credit, secondary placement and college assessments are exceeding expectations. State averages were meeting expectations for college credit and exceeding expectations for secondary and college assessments.

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