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Friday, June 21, 2024

Improvements in Reading and Math Noted in Schenectady Schools, Further Progress Needed


SCHENECTADY — The latest academic quarter has seen Schenectady’s elementary and middle school students making modest strides in their standardized reading and math test scores. District officials, however, are quick to point out that there’s still a long road ahead ​in getting students ⁣to meet grade-level standards in both subjects.

The test scores are based on the district’s internal standardized reading and math tests, which are given out on a quarterly basis.

In​ the winter quarter, 45% of Schenectady students from grades 1-8 scored ‍two or more grade⁤ levels below the standard in iReady reading scores. This is a step up ⁢from the 56% of students who scored similarly in the fall semester.

Meanwhile, about 22% of district students achieved or surpassed their grade level in reading in the ‍winter quarter, a significant increase from the 13%‌ recorded in the fall period.

“We’re moving in the right direction with these changes,” said Rebecca Gleason, assistant‌ director K-12 ELA and Library Services, during a school board presentation on ‌Wednesday night.

According to the ⁣district data, 53% of Black students in grades 1-8 scored two or more⁤ grade levels ⁤below in reading in the winter, a positive shift from ‌the 62% who scored​ similarly in the fall.

For Hispanic or Latino students,⁣ 54% tested two ⁣or more grade levels below in the second quarter,⁢ while 38% of white students and approximately‌ 32% of Asian students tested two ‌or‌ more grades below​ in the winter.

The district observed a similar ‌trend with ⁤iReady math scores in the ⁢winter, with​ about 62% ​of Black students and 59% of Hispanic ‌or Latino students scoring two or more⁤ grades ‌below the standard in math.

“This data set is ​a cause ⁣for⁣ concern,” district Director of Student Intervention Services Erika MacFarlane told the board on Wednesday. “The trends​ we’re seeing here mirror those we saw in the ⁢ELA (presentation) as well. While the data is trending in the right direction, the percentage of African⁣ American or Hispanic or Latino students scoring two or more grade‍ levels below is higher than those of Asian or white students.”

Over 32% of district students in grades 1-8 overall scored one grade level below in English Language Arts (ELA) during the second quarter, a slight increase from ⁢the 29.9%⁢ who scored one ⁤grade below in standardized testing in the fall.

Among ​eighth-grade students in the second quarter,​ 64% of students⁣ tested two or more grade levels below in reading, with 55% testing three or more grade levels below. This is a slight decrease from the 65% of students who‌ tested two‌ or more ​grade levels ‍below in the first quarter.

“This is the mid-year benchmark assessment, so we’re looking for growth ​from the beginning of the year,” Dr. Lorenda Chisolm, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning & The Office of Teaching & Learning, told the board.

“We don’t expect all⁣ of our ⁤students to ‌be at grade level at this point, as they haven’t yet been ⁢exposed to the full year of course content.”

Gleason mentioned that the district is contemplating bringing in an ELA consultant ‌to focus on improving literacy in grades 6-8.

“We understand that progress tends to be slower at the higher grades,” she said. “As ⁣students get older, it becomes more challenging to close⁣ the gap. We see growth at all three grades, but the work continues because we need to see⁣ more of it. We need to reduce‌ the number of students who are multiple grade levels below. We know that​ this affects every aspect of their academic performance and school experience.”

In the second quarter, 51% of district students in grades⁤ 1-8 tested two or more grade⁤ levels below⁢ in math, ⁣an improvement ⁢from the 66% who tested ‍two or more below in the⁤ fall.

During the second quarter, 63% of district ⁤eighth graders tested three or grade levels below in⁢ math, down from the 67% who were in the same category in the fall.

“We’re not where we want to be yet,” MacFarlane said.‍ “The trend is positive, but it’s important to note that the curriculum ⁣is K-8.⁣ One of ‍the benefits ⁢of‌ having a K-8 curriculum, which we will have starting next year, is that students will have a common language and learning ⁣routines ⁤from kindergarten onwards.”

In the state test results for the 2022-2023 school year, the district ‍recorded a 6.93% growth year-over-year‍ for students in grades 3-8 passing the state math⁣ exam, with 16.72% of students scoring a level three or four mark on the test to demonstrate their‍ proficiency.

The district saw a 3.96% increase in proficiency among grades 3-8 for state English Language Arts (ELA) scores, with 24% of students earning passing grades.

Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton
Emily Stanton, a skillful journalist previously based in Boston, is adept at covering a diverse array of stories. Her thorough and engaging reporting style, honed with a Master's in Journalism from Boston University, focuses on community-relevant stories.
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