Winters principals address school Trustee concerns over low CAASPP scores

“We believe it has some holes and gaps that we need to address.”
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Director of Educational Services Sandra Ayón presented the 2018 results of the Calif. Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) testing to school board Trustees at the Nov. 15 Winters Joint Unified School District board meeting. While test scores continued to reflect low numbers Ayón reminded Trustees that actions are taking place across school sites as the District transitions to looking at data differently. “One thing that helps by looking at this data, even though it’s low, is it allows the teachers and administrators to discuss things,” said Ayón. “We’re not looking at growth anymore, we’re looking at grade level proficiency. Starting next year we’ll be able to see how they did last year and this year.” Winters school administrators took turns under a rigorous questioning by school board Trustees regarding reported test scores and what are administrators doing to resolve the continuous issue of low scores. Winters Elementary School Principal Greg Moffitt reported they’re comparing these scores from the end of last year to the first STAR tests from the beginning of the current school year. He said they believe there are some misalignments in the curriculum with the questions being asked on the tests and they’re trying to see where those are. “We believe it has some holes and gaps that we need to address,“ said Moffitt. Moffitt shared fifth grade math scores as an example and reported they have consistently observed the fifth grade math curriculum being offered has not matched what is being tested on at the end of the year. “Our concern is that we have math students who are proficient or at math level. But that is not what they are being asked to do at the end of the year on the state test,” said Moffitt. “If our kids are going to be asked to do higher level thinking we need to give them the practice to do that and the opportunity to do that. In our opinion, there’s a mismatch there.” He reported one of the things WES staff is looking at is what in the curriculum needs to be taught in a different way and what needs to be supplemented. “We’re trying to make sure what we’re teaching is what they’re being tested on,” said Moffitt. Winters Middle School Principal John Barsotti and Winters High School Principal Nicole Reyherme both shared their concerns that students haven’t yet learned the content they’re being tested on. Barsotti reported at WMS they are addressing the issue by starting to administer interim assessment tests. The results are received right away and help the WMS team to decide what they need to do and what else they need to offer support on. “We have focused on a group of students to see what they need and how they’re doing,” Barsotti said. “We’re making sure we’re planning activities and assessing students at the higher level DOK (depth of knowledge).” Reyherme said change takes time in this situation and while test scores haven’t increased they’re taking steps to use the data to support student who could be meeting the standards and to help adjust how to better ensure that students are getting the information and skills they need by their junior year so they’ll have the right tools to take the test. In terms of Math Reyherme said this year WHS has made changes so more math teachers are teaching Math 1 to allow them to assess and collaborate about incoming ninth grade students. “They’re collaborating over what we’re seeing and what we can do to bring these students back,” said Reyherme. “This is going to take a couple of years for them to really do this, but it’s the big step we’ve taken.” WHS staff are going over example test questions to see if what is being asked are things they can answer themselves and to see what skills are expected of students taking the test. “We were able to identify that being able to think critically about what they’re really asking for is needed,” said Reyherme. “Having the skill to know how to go into that reading and select that task and not just select an answer is hard.” Through staff collaboration the goal is to identify problem factors and address them to see if the scores go up and to look the information again if they don’t. All three Principals reported they are working on making sure to follow up with teachers at their sites to help ensure follow up to action items. Reyherme and Barsotti said the low test scores were met with disbelief by some staff, and once they’ve gotten over the shock they’re committing to do more. “This is the data, these are our kids and we have to do more,” said Reyherme. “Some teachers are making commitments in those moments of what they will go do when they go back to their classrooms.” Reyherme said making the time to follow up with teachers and ensure the follow through is happening is part of the struggle as some of the teachers do implement changes and other do not. Barsotti agreed following up with teachers is a big part of ensuring change. “It’s important we’re following up with teachers individually and having conversations with them about what they’ve brought to light and what they’ve talked about is actually being done in class,” said Barsotti. “All those things can’t just be taken for granted. You have to follow up with people. It’s tough to stop doing what you’ve been doing in the past and replace it with a new behavior. It’s tough but it’s necessary.” Moffitt said test scores are definitely giving teachers a shock. “You look at the scores and the first reaction is shock and disbelief. There’s almost a grieving process. Is this really how our kids scored?” said Moffitt. “Behind every data point is a student, and every student has a story. And we need those stories to be of success and achievement. Once you get past that you have acceptance and we get down to what we need to do about it.” Moffitt said parents on their Site Council were also in disbelief regarding the test scores as many of them are regular volunteers in the classrooms and are seeing not only how well students are scoring on their weekly tests but how hard teachers are working in the classroom to help and support students. Board President Rob Warren asked if the students every day grades reflect what the data is showing, and if we are that far off from what we’re testing on the CAASPP compared to what they’re doing in the classroom every day. Moffitt reported the elementary schools report to parents how students do on their chapter tests and on the STAR test. “We feel accurate what we’re reporting to parents is how they’re doing on these tests,” said Moffitt. “Your child took the test and this is where they fell. We report the assessment data.” Barsotti reported the middle school has seen a big gap with how CAASPP scores match up to the grades earned by students. “There’s four percentages here and five grades possible,” said Barsotti. “There needs to be a higher predictability level. We need to make sure what we’re sending is accurate. Even if people aren’t questioning it we need to make sure we’re doing our due diligence to make sure we’re doing a higher alignment.” Reyherme use 11th grade math as an example since the CAASPP is administered then and said students in advanced math classes are ahead and students in lower math classes are not passing. “The test on 11 grade math is not equal to what is expected on the test,” Reyherme said. “It’s not a great comparison because of that, but it’s accurate.” She said the model of being able to retry something when you get it wrong the first time to help raise your grade is not an option on the CAASPP test. “We may be setting them up on that ability to come back. It doesn’t help with the CAASPP,: said Reyherme. “But it’s a difference at what we’re seeing looking at grades compared to CAASPP scores.”]]>

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