NECAP results mostly good news for local schools

MANCHESTER - The New England Common Assessment Program, NECAP, results were released on Wednesday, Feb. 6, illustrating how local schools fared in the subjects of reading, writing, math and science.

Burr and Burton Academy was able to thrive in nearly all categories, staying above the state averages on most. BBA finished with 82 percent proficiency in reading, 60 percent in math, and 61 percent in writing, all above the state averages. They were only below average in science with a 22 percent proficiency.

Mike Caraco, director of institutional research and data and the mathematics department chairman for BBA, said that BBA looks at the NECAP exams along with other forms of standardized testing instead of just focusing on one, but that the NECAP's still provide some insight.

"I am pleased to the extent that BBA focuses on this," he said. "We like to look longitudinal more than anything else because of all the inherent flaws of the NECAP tests. For example we had students who were not completely focused on the NECAP's and were more focused on there calculus homework for example. We are always trying to improve the things we are doing and this is one of the things that we look at that will give us evidence to see if the changes we made were positive."

When BBA receives the data from the NECAP exams they compare the scores with other local data to see if there are an anomalies. This can sometimes be skewed by students not giving 100 percent during the tests, said Caraco, but that happens every year.

"The incentive for the individual student to do well is only as much as they feel a responsibility to the school. Because of that we try to look at how we did relative to some other kind of peer schools in the state," he said.

Manchester Elementary Middle School finished just below average in reading with 71 percent of its students proficient, below average in math at 59 percent proficient, right at the state average in fifth grade writing at 51 percent proficient, below average in fourth grade science at 49 percent, and below average in eighth grade science at 16 percent.

Sarah Merrill, principal of MEMS, was unable to be contacted for comment by press time.

The Dorset School finished above the state averages in grades three through eight in reading and math with 85 percent proficient in reading and 79 percent proficient in math. Eighth grade science, 39 percent proficient, and writing, 91 percent proficient, were also above the state averages. Fifth grade writing was above the state averages with 60 percent proficiency and fourth grade science was also above the state average at 65 percent.

Principal of the Dorset School, Rosanna Moran, was very pleased with how well the school did as a whole, but said that does not mean they can stop trying to improve their programs.

"We had quote a large percentage of students proficient in every category. In terms of proficient, not making the distinction between level four and level three, we did better than the state average in every category, which was great to see," she said.

Moran later added, "I am really pleased with how well our students did. It is a direct reflection on our teachers, the parents, and the students and we are always looking for ways to improve."

When The Dorset School receives the results they get the staff together and break them down grade by grade, said Moran, to see what needs to be improved on. They work on developing the programs, which in terms help the students perform better in the classroom.

Sunderland Elementary School scored well in the third through eighth grade levels with 84 percent proficiency in reading and 68 percent proficiency in math, both above the state averages. Numbers were not given for fifth grade writing and fourth grade science to protect student confidentiality because of the small class sizes.

Melody Troy, the principal of Sunderland Elementary School, said that it takes commitment from students, teachers, and parents to perform well on these exams.

"It takes a combination of things to do well on these test certainly it's good teaching, good follow-up from home, good support from the supervisory level and it also it is great support from the students who are willing to do the work," she said.

At the state-wide level, the percentage of fifth graders who scored in the proficient range in writing increased 5 percentage points, from 46 percent proficient in 2011 to 51 percent proficient in 2012. Writing at the eighth grade level, proficient scores increased seven points, from 59 percent last year to 66 percent this fall. The percentage of high school students who scored in the proficient range dropped two points, from 48 percent to 46 percent.

Test scores for reading and math have not changed significantly from 2011. The percentage of students in grades three through eight who scored in the proficient range in reading went down one percentage point, from 74 percent in 2011 to 73 percent in 2012. Reading results at the high school level were the exact opposite of elementary/middle results, with the percentage of students scoring in the proficient range increasing one point, from 73 percent in 2011 to 74 percent this year. Math scores at the elementary and middle school level were unchanged at 65 percent of students scoring in the proficient range. Math results for high school students went up two percentage points, from 36 percent proficient last year to 38 percent proficient in the most recent results.


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