Report Shows Missouri Schools With Low Test Scores May Have High Student Growth • Missouri Independent

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Schools with a low percentage of students achieving proficient and advanced levels on the Missouri standardized tests are also among those with the highest student growth, according to a new report released on Thursday.

In an effort to better visualize how students develop over time, researchers at the Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) Center housed at the Saint Louis University School of Education have created an index to show how students progress to levels of competence.

The report found that high-growth schools are not confined to a single category and include those that already have high test scores, but also those with as few as 11.1% of students rated as competent. or advanced in a subject.

The researchers’ model builds on a calculation by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education which determines how much the students have grown compared to the predictions. By averaging test scores from previous years, the Missouri Growth Model predicts an anticipated score that a student should achieve.

Thursday’s report details how researchers at the PRIME Center translated this score to fit a scale that more closely reflects traditional letter grades so that it is easily understood. Schools with an average growth score of 50 under the state model would have an average of 85 under the PRIME model.

A single standardized test result does not show a complete picture of a student’s progress from entering a classroom at the start of the school year. Instead, it often indicates a student’s benefit from outside resources like family income, said Gary Ritter, dean of the School of Education at the University of Saint Louis.

“We want growth to be in the conversation, not in the stats,” Ritter said. “We believe that Missouri rulers can learn a lot by paying attention to schools that are growing steadily.”

Researchers at the PRIME Center have translated the 2019 DESE growth scores – which represent an average of three years of test results and are the most comprehensive data available before the pandemic – and put them on a new, expanded scale. The calculation does not change the order of the scores.

For example, only 27.3% of students at Froebel Elementary School in St. Louis who were tested scored proficient or advanced on the 2019 Missouri Assessment Program test for mathematics.

But in the researcher’s model, the school’s growth score was over 100, making it one of six elementary schools to achieve such a high growth score in math.

“This is a school where the data shows great student growth,” the report read. “So, good things are happening that would not be apparent from a simple examination of skill rates.”

School growth scores could exceed 100 in the model, but for the purposes of the report, they are capped at 100.

Thursday’s report highlighted the 20 schools with the highest growth scores among different grade levels and both English language arts and math subjects. He also calculated school scores based on the performance of a subgroup of historically underserved students that included those receiving a free and discounted lunch, black and Hispanic students, English learners and students. students with disabilities.

The schools with the best growth scores in Thursday’s report often varied widely in terms of student proficiency levels on state standardized tests.

Looking at the growth of the subgroup of math students in schools that had both elementary and middle grades, proficiency rates among the top 20 schools ranged from 85.7% to 11.1%.

The high growth scores were also not clearly limited to other factors. They have been distributed to Bootheel Schools in Kansas City in St. Louis and in the northwest of the state.

They could also be found in schools large and small, and include both traditional public schools and charter schools.

“We’ve found so far that schools that get high PRIME growth scores really run the gamut,” Ritter said.

Eric Parsons, associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri, was part of a team of educational policy researchers who helped develop the Missouri growth model and calculated it for nearly a decade since 2013.

Growth scores are included in annual district performance reports that track progress and performance. Annual report cards are one of the determining factors that contribute to a school’s accreditation status, but growth scores are only one factor included in the reports.

“But for various reasons, I think in the traditional (annual performance reports) that DESE has produced and so forth, they’re often kind of buried,” Parsons said of the growth scores. “And so I really like that the PRIME report takes them and puts them front and center.”

Parsons said focusing only on proficiency rates would produce a much more consistent list of schools. The Growth Score attempts to control for factors beyond a school’s control, such as the amount of resources available, “and say,” Okay, given where students are starting from, which schools and districts are moving them. higher up in the cast, ‘and that’s why you see that diversity,’ Parsons said.

Evan Rhinesmith, director of research and evaluation for the PRIME Center, said he hopes Thursday’s report will push policymakers to understand and value growth, “because the 70% skill rate only valid if the children reach 70% and stay at 70% each year. ”

Last month, preliminary results from statewide testing showed that in the 2020-21 school year which was disrupted by the pandemic, scores declined in almost all grade levels and subjects tested, with the largest decline in mathematics.

It is not yet clear how the pandemic may have impacted student growth, for example by causing smaller growth gains. However, Parsons said his team of researchers are currently working on completing their Year of Growth analysis that studies the impact of the pandemic on student growth.

Researchers from the PRIME Center plan to release two additional reports that will highlight school rankings based on the nine regions and schools in the state’s Department of Education showing strong growth in student results in the under category. -groups.

Downloadable data on individual schools and a tool that allows users to search for their district can be found at www.sluprime.org.


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