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Arkansas students scoring well on standardized tests

By: 6 July 2010 2 Comments

Arkansas students showed their smarts last school year as they scored well on various state-required standardized test scores given throughout the 2009-2010 school year.

Test scores become available throughout the summer, with the latest becoming available from the Arkansas Department of Education this week.

The end-of-course exam results were announced Tuesday and the benchmark exam results were announced in June. EOC exams are given to students at the end of their courses in algebra I, geometry and biology. Students also take an EOC exam at the end of their 11th-grade literacy class.

This was an important year for students taking the algebra I ECO as this is the first time that the test falls under the state’s “high stakes” testing for graduation requirements. Students must “pass” the exam to be allowed to graduate.

Of the 353 seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grader who took the exam in January, 91.5 percent passed, while 93 percent of the 33,093 students in those grades taking the April administration of the exam passed, according to a press release from the Arkansas Department of Education.

Students who failed their first try on the exam will have two opportunities to undergo remediation and then retake the exam. If they still fail after three attempts, an alternative form of remediation will be made available to them and then they will take an alternative, computer-based exam, according to the press release.

Although the state requires students to “pass” the algebra I test, the federal government has a tougher analysis. School districts and individual schools are required to have a certain percentage of its students score “proficient” or “advanced” all the state’s standardized tests. If a school doesn’t reach the required standard for a year, that school is placed on the “school improvement” list. Schools must have enough students score proficient or advanced for two years in a row to be fully removed from the list, and the negative ramifications increase for the schools for each year they do not have adequate scores.

“The good news is more than nine out of ten students passed this test the first time around,” said Tom W. Kimbrell, Arkansas commissioner of education, “but the great news is that three out of four are mastering algebra at a proficient level.”

State school officials were also pleased in June when they announced the results of the 2010 Arkansas Augmented Benchmark Exams and the 11th-grade Literacy Exam.

An augmented exam has the two types of exams-criterion and norm-referenced-included in one test. The state moved to using augmented testing a couple of years ago to prevent students from having to take two different types of standardized tests.

According to information from the state, more students scored proficient or advanced for another annual increase in math and literacy performance and, for the fourth year in a row, the achievement gap between white students and students of color continued to narrow.

“When you have the achievement gap closing while scores of each student subgroup improve, you know that the system is working together to produce the right results. You can’t ask for a much better trend than that,” said Kimbrell.

He credited the continued improvements to the comprehensive reforms enacted by the legislature and implemented by educators after the 2002 Arkansas Supreme Court’s mandate to provide all students access to an “adequate and equal education.” These efforts include:

  • professional development to ensure effective teaching;
  • strong educational leadership;
  • a rigorous curriculum;and
  • assessments that are well-aligned to that curriculum.

For view your school district’s specific scores, visit the Arkansas Department of Education website at Arkansased.org

Report Highlights:

End-of-Course exams-

  • On the algebra I End-of-Course Exam, 73 percent scored proficient or higher in January and 76 percent did so in April
  • On geometry, 76 percent scored proficient or higher in January and 69 percent did in April
  • On biology, 40 percent scored proficient or higher in January and 36 percent did in April.

Benchmark exams-

  • The largest percentage of proficient and advanced scores – 84 percent – occurred on the third grade mathematics benchmark.
  • The largest increase of proficient and advanced scores – 7 percentage points – occurred on the seventh-grade mathematics benchmark, with 75 percent scoring at those levels in 2010.
  • Three-quarters or more of students scored proficient or advanced on six of the 12 literacy and mathematics benchmark exams – third-grade math at 84 percent; fourth-grade math at 80 percent, sixth-grade math at 75 percent; seventh-grade math at 75 percent and eighth-grade literacy at 76 percent.
  • The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on the Grade 11 Literacy Exam increased to 60 percent in 2010 from 57 percent in 2009.

Source: Arkansas Department of Education

About: Jamie Smith:
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.

2 Comments »

  • Bryanna said:

    I am a student who took the course last year, and got advanced on all three subjects. I believe we Arkansas students are stepping it up :)

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