Arkansas test scores improve but still have room to improve
The Department of Education released results from the 2011 Arkansas Augmented Benchmark Exams for all Arkansas school districts last week. They were on time, we at First Arkansas News are a bit late getting the word out to our readers and for that, we apologize.
The good news is, results show continued overall academic improvement among the Natural State’s public school students.
“Our increased use of data for decision making at the classroom and administrative levels is paying off,” said Tom Kimbrell, Commissioner of Education. “We did well this year as we continue to build upon the success of data-based decision making implemented over the past few years. But, we have a long way to go, and we’re ready to take all of our students to the next level.”
Real quick let us explain what “augmented benchmark exams” actually are…and why they pretty much matter to some folks. A few years ago, the state had required two different kinds of standardized tests…norm-referenced, which compares students to other students by placing them in a percentile ranking; and criterion-based, which are tests that require students to reach a certain point level to “pass.” Each form of testing required a different style of asking questions.
Educators (and lawmakers) realized that was a bit too much testing so they created the augmented testing program, which combines the two different kinds of testing.
So, back to the now. According to the press release from the Arkansas Department of Education, from 2010 to 2011, overall scores increased on 10 of 14 exams. In some cases, the percent of students scoring proficient have nearly doubled since 2005.
“We’re making gains every year and with the implementation of the Common Core State
Standards that will kick-off this fall in grades K-2, we’re on the right path for preparing our students for college and careers,” said Dr. Gayle Potter, Director of Assessment.
Potter attributed the improved test scores to the state’s emphasis on professional development of teachers and a strict standards-based education system that sets high expectations.
“Is that progress? Yes,” Kimbrell said. “Is that victory? Don’t think so. We will continue to support Arkansas educators and best practices to multiply the gains we applaud today.”
Results are available at http://ArkansasEd.org/testing/test_scores.html
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