Amity Regional Schools is the third top performing district in its DRG (district reference group) and sixth in the state, according to a new report by the state’s department of education. Marie McPadden, the district’s director of curriculum and staff development presented the Next Gen Accountability Report, a compilation and analysis of standardized testing scores at the board of education’s May meeting.
“We view this as our report card from the state and I have to say, this is the best one yet. Amity is really doing remarkably well compared to other districts,” McPadden says.
Amity is ranked #3 in its DRG and #6 in the state, with a rating of 87.2, just 1.2 points shy of the state’s highest scoring district. Three of the state’s six top schools are in DRG A and three are in DRG B. Based on the results, Amity Middle School Bethany is recognized as a School of Distinction based on high growth for all students in math.
“And Amity Regional High School has the incredible off-the-chart award as a School of Distinction for overall high performance. Out of 1,250 maximum points, the school earned 1,089.6, giving them an overall rating of 91%.”
The district is rated on 12 indicators, which fall into four categories: academic achievement, absenteeism, graduation rate and physical education/art. Performance scores were based on ELA and math scores. Testing in science was not given last school year and therefor was not included in the results. Seventh and eighth grade students took the SBAC test and a Connecticut Alternative Assessment is given to students with special needs districtwide.
McPadden explains the state’s expectations when it comes to SBAC scores, “A student who scored 2575 in 7th grade on the Math SBA is expected to grow 36 points by eighth grade. If the same student scores 2593 in eighth grade, the student grew 18 points of the 36-point target and has achieved 50% of his target. The goal is 100%. I’m not sure if anyone’s ever met 100% or if it’s statistically possible.”
The district did meet the 100% target in several areas: ELA Performance-All Students, Math Performance-All Students, Participation, On-track to HS Graduation, 4-Year Graduation, Postsecondary Entrance and Arts Access. Amity was near target, yet over state average: Chronic Absenteeism-All students (97.3% of goal), Preparation for college CCR – % passing exams (93.7% of goal), 6-Year Graduation-High Needs (99.9% of goal) and Physical Fitness (98.2% of goal).
With this data in hand, McPadden recognizes that there is always room for improvement and the district has set an action plan which includes improving ELA and Math growth for all 7th and 8th graders, adding common assessments to the PowerSchool Assessment, continuing to align curriculum across grades 6-8, analyzing STAR Assessment Results (3x/year), professional learning, SBA interim-assessment blocks and student-centered/mastery-based learning.
“Teachers can make their own assessments in PowerSchool. They can create beautiful graphs and it’s very easy to do,” McPadden says. “Middle school teachers can go in and see everything in one spot: SBAC, course grades, all of those different areas of measure.”
A plan of action for high needs students includes more help acclimating the students to the testing process. “The tests are very difficult. We have consultants at both of the middle schools who work in science, social studies, English and math to teach how to take the tests on the computer. How do we measure our efforts? We look at increased scores, but that can’t be a stand-alone.
“Overall, we’ve done really, really well. This is exceptional,” McPadden says.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent