Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter
November 25, 2013
Elkin City Schools scored higher than the state average for End of Course and End of Grade tests for the 2012-2013 school year.
The results were released recently by the state’s Department of Public Instruction, showing Elkin students averaged a 55.3 percent in the performance composite EOC/EOG category.
North Carolina averaged 44.7 percent.
Elkin scored an average of 47.2 percent in the math end-of-grade and 56.2 in the reading end-of-grade.
The state average was 42.3 percent in math and 43.9 in reading.
Elkin met all of the 39 federal target goals and all 73 of the state targets.
“I am so proud of our ECS staff and each of his/her individual efforts in our first year of the Common Core,” School Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said. “We knew that scores were going to be reestablished, but when we saw our results compared to NC and other area schools, we were very proud of our initial year.”
The scores are the first after the implementation of the North Carolina’s Common Core standards.
North Carolina joined Common Core with several other states in 2010. The 2012-13 year was the first year scores reflected the new standards.
The state adopted the new national standards for the language arts and math tests in order to receive funding from the federal government.
The standards were encouraged by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan through grants in the national “Race to the Top” program.
In mathematics, students are expected to adequately: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, reason abstractly and quantitatively, construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, model with mathematics, use appropriate tools strategically, attend to precision, look for and make use of structure, and look for and express regularly in repeated reasoning.
In language arts, the students are tested on their literacy in not only English but science, technical subjects, and history/social studies.
The EOG scores reflect Grades 3-8; EOCs reflect Grades 9-12.
Accountability and Testing Director Sheila Settle said the school system had been working in advance to prepare for the changes.
“We embraced the change to Common Core early on when most systems were waiting and contemplating the development and process of rolling out the changes,” Settle said. “We are very pleased with the scores, especially considering this to be the base line for upcoming years.”
While Elkin fared better than the state, the numbers were lower than what educators and parents would have liked to see. The scores reflect a new level of expectations from the state, according to school officials.
“Students today are expected to solve problems and to use knowledge in new ways,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “We have raised standards for students because we want them to be ready for anything they choose to do after high school. That means doing more to prepare them for the competitive challenges of college and careers.”
“Changing the standards and implementing new assessments will always cause a huge drop in scores. In the past when the state had renorming of particular content assessments, we saw the trend take a huge dive and then in the following years the trend begin to incline. We can only look at other states that have already adopted the Common Core Standards and have had it in place long enough to see the data effects,” Settle said.
“Scores have dropped numerically as they have adjusted the former statistical data, but it was an ideal time for that change to occur as we are entering the challenge to prepare our students in the Common Core,” Bledsoe said.
Elkin High Principal Joel Hoyle said the math scores were especially important because of the work that went on behind the scenes leading up to the tests.
“Elkin High School teachers made an effort to individualize instruction, especially in math, based on students prior testing data and predicted data from EVAAS to better identify students strengths and weakness. Our Math 1 teachers (three teachers) worked closely together to assist each other as they taught the course. This allowed them to be sure they were each on track and teaching the same standards. I think the collaboration between teachers greatly assisted each one,” Hoyle said.
Bledsoe said the STEAM initiative under way at the three schools will better prepare students for future tests, even as standards change.
“STEAM is a program that truly blends and benefits every subject area from Pre-K thru 12. The integration of STEAM will enhance teaching and learning as teachers and students explore new ways to problem solve and connect to the Common Core curriculum,” Bledsoe said.
“The 2012-13 school year gave us a baseline to begin our work. We are looking at EVAAS data as well as goal summaries and sharing ideas and planning strategies that will strengthen our structure in teaching Common Core. STEAM will be an asset for our students and will complement the delivery of instruction of English language arts and mathematics,” Settle said.
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