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September 2017

Student Achievement Results Show Real Progress

Superintendent Dr. Marty Semmel

In the spring of each year, students in grades three through eight and eleven take part in standardized testing as laid out in the state assessment plan. In Plymouth, we work with students to view these assessments as a chance to display their learning and set personal goals for completion and success. The results reflect any given student’s performance on a single day, and are considered a “snapshot” of academic performance to be analyzed alongside additional sources of data such as classroom performance, projects, tests and other work samples throughout the year.

As educators, we gather to review and discuss the data in order to identify which practices contributed most to the results so that student gains can be sustained and duplicated. Each grade level or content area team meets regularly and schools have school improvement teams that identify successful strategies. Collectively, we have a district wide data team composed of teachers and administrators from each school, central office staff, parents and board of education representation. This team convenes several times over the course of the school year and the discussions about instruction and assessment help inform the future direction for curriculum, budget and professional learning.

Third through eighth graders participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which were designed to reflect the Common Core Standards that were adopted about five years ago. Last year we showed great gains with this assessment. The percentage of students reaching the proficiency level or higher in language arts increased 8.8 percentage points and in mathematics students grew 8.5 percentage points from 2014-15 to 2015-16. We were cautious to expect multiple years of growth, as sometimes there are spurts, but saw improvement again this year! The percentage of students reaching the proficiency level or higher in language arts increased slightly from 55.1% to 55.5%. In mathematics, the percentage of students reaching the proficiency level or higher increased 5.3 percentage points from 45.1% to 50.4%! This growth is greater than the majority of districts in our demographic reference group (DRG) and places us with the 5th highest math scores and 3rd highest rate of growth for math in comparison to these towns. We also leapfrogged over three districts in language arts. Specific areas to highlight are our third grade class’ math scores coming in at 74% proficient or higher and growth in grade 7 math scores by 17 percentage points.

For the second year, our eleventh grade students participated in the school day SAT, an assessment many of us are familiar with. The state, with the support of districts, decided to use an assessment that was already commonplace in the college admission process and adopt it for all students. We only have two years of data that reflect all students taking the assessment, but that limited data shows a 28 point growth in the mean total score and an increase of 4 percentage points of students meeting benchmark in literacy and 9 percentage points in math. Our high school staff continues to learn more about the newest versions of this assessment and how to support student growth.

Teachers and staff across the district are highly committed to the success of all students. We have made many instructional shifts in the past few years to move students towards authentic and rigorous math and literacy instruction. We will continue to make sure these methods are working and continue to improve upon them. We truly appreciate the level of commitment from the Board of Education and residents in supporting this work and the students as a whole. For additional information, please plan to attend the presentation to the Board of Education on September 13th at 7:00 in the Terryville High School Cafeteria! 


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