Looking at the student state test scores this spring as compared to last spring, there are many things to feel good about, said Brookfield Local School District’s Adam Lewis.
There also are things to be concerned about, said the director of teaching, learning and accountability.
Students were tested in math grades three through eight; eighth-grade and high school algebra 1; English language arts in grades three through eight and 11; fifth- and eighth-grade science; and high school geometry, biology, American history and American government.
Student proficiency increased in 12 subjects out of 21 tested, and in seven subjects Brookfield students’ proficiency ratings outpaced the state average, Lewis told the school board June 29.
Anytime proficiency beats the state average, “That’s a really good accomplishment,” he said, and in seven subjects the proficiency growth amounted to 19 percentage points or higher.
Lewis singled out eighth-grade algebra 1, which went from 70 percent proficient to 89. “That’s impressive in the fact that our eighth-grade algebra 1 students generally always perform very well, so a 19 percent increase is pretty significant,” he said.
“Our traditional ninth-grade algebra 1 students increased by 31 percent from spring ’21 to spring ’22,” Lewis added. “That’s something to be very, very proud of. ’20-’21 we were at 15 percent proficiency, and we went up to 46.”
Issues that probably negatively impacted test scores this year included two high school math teachers who left in the middle of the year, and a series of teacher absences due to personal and medical issues, Lewis said.
“Those are instructional days lost where we have a sub in there, in a tested area,” he said.
Student apathy also is an issue, particularly in the middle school. Elementary students tend to take the tests seriously and high schoolers have to show proficiency in certain subjects to graduate, Lewis said. School board member Derek Mihalcin asked Lewis what could be done so the students take the tests seriously. “They don’t care about this; we do,” Mihalcin said.
“It’s a culture thing,” Lewis said, noting that he has talked with middle school Principal Craig Boles about ways to get the kids to buy in. “We have to instill in these kids that is important to be your best all the time, no matter what you’re doing.”
Mihalcin added that he thinks kids get burned out from the testing. In addition to state tests and normal subject tests, students take three diagnostic tests a year. Some middle school students took six diagnostic tests this year, something that will not be repeated next year, Lewis said.
To try to foster a culture of improvement, the school will continue to have professional development days with teachers to teach them the best ways to teach; administrators and coaches will be more visible to offer assistance; the use of a phonics program will be expanded to all elementary students; intervention and tutoring will be expanded; and students will be encouraged to use Paper, an online tutoring program that students can access from home.
“You can always do better,” Lewis said. “I think we’re moving in that direction.”