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School district scores high on annual assessments

WY-TOPP scores exceed state averages, school performance good across the board

 

September 26, 2019



chool in Crook County is meeting the Wyoming Department of Education’s performance expectations – or, in the case of Moorcroft High School (MHS), exceeding them.

This being the second year of WY-TOPP assessments, overwhelmingly positive test results for 2018-19 have also given Crook County School District insight into improvements that have been made over the last year, says Superintendent Mark Broderson, and the hard work of the staff

“Every building showed improvement and showed growth, which is exactly what you want,” says Broderson of the performance expectations.

School performance is measured according to both the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and is based on a combination of indicators including, but not limited to, WY-TOPP scores.

“Moorcroft High School is exceeding overall and the other four are all [meeting expectations],” Broderson says. “That’s pretty darned good, for sure.”

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what pushed MHS into the highest tier, says Broderson.

“It’s hard to put your finger on it with the way they measure this, because it’s not just based on your test scores, so you can’t just say Moorcroft has the smartest kids,” he says.

The high score comes from a combination of factors that show improvements within the school, he explains, such as improvement from specific students who scored higher this year than last, graduation rates and so on.

“It’s not an apples-to-apples measurement,” he says. It does, however, show that MHS has done a great job with internal improvements, he agrees.

Broderson believes the four-day week has impacted the performance of Crook County’s schools.

“Typically, when students make a change to a four-day week, it gives some options as far as taking advantage of some professional development – putting teachers in the same room and giving them a chance to work together,” he says.

“That certainly benefited us last year, I think; our teachers are collaborating more and we are becoming more uniform across the district.”

WY-TOPP

This year’s results not only saw CCSD score highly compared to the rest of the state, but also against its own results from last year. In 2017-18, the first time the test was applied, there were quite a few red boxes where certain grade levels fell below the state average on specific subjects.

Scoring falls into four categories that can be split between “basic and below” and “proficient and advanced”. This year, Crook County’s schools saw more students fall into the higher categories than the state average in almost every case, dropping marginally below the average only in fifth and seventh grade math and English Language Arts.

By the time students reach tenth grade, however, this year’s results show they are exceeding the state average by a notable margin in every subject tested.

“We put some focus on some teaching strategies and we also brought in an instructional coach to work with our first year teachers, and I think she’s doing a nice job. That’s helped them a little bit,” Broderson says of the new tactics the district has been trying over the last year. The coach has been – and will be – working on areas such as knowledge of standards, standards-based grading, proficiency scales and teaching strategies.

“We’re having the training district-wide so they can continue to have those conversations as the year goes on,” he says.

The focus on district-wide strategies has also been aided by the four-day week creating opportunities to collaborate, Broderson says.

“Most of our teachers are good at what they do and they care about the kids, which is important. The other thing is that I do think we’re using our professional development a little bit more wisely and we’re bringing people in who are working with our staff and we’re getting a better direction on where we want to go as a district,” he says.

“That’s what we’re trying to do. Every now and then we have anomalies where people will go off on their own or try something different, but that’s not necessarily bad either because you want people to be experimenting and growing.”

The district congratulated teachers for their hard work and great results with a celebration at the most recent in-service day.

“We also pointed out that what we are doing is working and we’re going in the right direction, so stay on board and have faith in what they are doing as a group,” Broderson says.

“It’s a good feeling when you can pat yourself on the back – and they do good things every day in their classrooms throughout the district.”

Scores

In third grade math, 12 percent more students were proficient and advanced than the state average while, in fourth grade, Crook County topped the state average by nine percent. Scores skewed much closer to the state average in fifth through seventh grades, picking up again in eighth grade where 60.78 percent of students scored “proficient and advanced” compared to 54.48 percent statewide.

In ninth grade, the gap widened further with 51.32 percent of local students hitting the top categories compared to 40.38 statewide. In tenth grade, Crook County’s 58.82 percent proficient and advanced was over 13 percent higher than the state average.

In English Language Arts, in third grade, nine percent more students were proficient and advanced in English Language Arts than the state average. Fourth and fifth grade scores were closer to the rest of the state, while sixth and seventh grade scores jumped ahead by almost ten percent at 70.11 percent in the former (state average: 58.62) and 68.63 in the latter (state average: 58.62).

While eighth and ninth grades again mirrored the rest of the state, 57.65 percent of tenth graders achieved proficient and advanced compared to 52.76 percent statewide.

For science, Crook County students scored slightly higher than the state average in fourth and eighth grades with 56.58 percent proficient and advanced compared to the state’s 52.01 percent in the former and 51.96 percent compared to the state’s 47.51 percent in the latter.

In tenth grade, the gap widened: 60 percent of local students were proficient or advanced compared to the 48.29 percent state average.

 
 

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