Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Moderator: The Merrimack Volunteer Moderators

Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby andysinnh » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:17 pm

Pretty cool....

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/910 ... 25BCCA446#

Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%
By JAKE BERRY
Staff Writer

MERRIMACK – More than three months remain in the semester, but Merrimack High School administrators are already celebrating some of their best grades in years.

Results of the New England Common Assessment Program, released last month, show dramatic increases in both math and reading – jumps that exceed state averages and the school’s past performance by a wide margin, according to school administrators.

About 85 percent of the school’s 11th grade students who took the standardized tests this fall scored proficient or above on the reading portion of the exam, besting last year’s results by more than 25 percentage points. More than 40 percent of the students scored proficient or higher on the math portion of the exam, as well – 15 points higher than last year.

Merrimack’s scores, which beat the state average by 10 percentage points in both sections, increased at a far greater rate than most schools across the state, according to Tim Kurtz, director of assessment for the N.H. Department of Education.

“That’s a big jump,” he said. “What are they putting in the water down there?”

More than that, the scores validate the school’s growth and development over the years, according to principal Ken Johnson.

“This is a better reflection of where we’ve been at as a school,” Johnson said last week. “NECAP scores in general mask a lot of what is going on at a school, but this shows that … everything is going in the right direction. … It’s just off the charts.”

The school’s dropout rate, a point of focus over recent years, has dropped to less than 1 percent. More than 80 percent of Merrimack students are going on to college, Johnson said, and the school has a state champion science team and a nationally competitive alternative energy team. But still, in past years, others, both inside and out of the school community, have looked past the school’s accomplishments because of its NECAP scores, Johnson said.

Last year, 34 percent of students scored proficient at math or higher, and 60 percent in reading – closer to the state averages.

So, Johnson, working with students and other staff members, set out to shape a plan to get the test scores more in line with the students’ abilities.

Under the plan, implemented for this fall’s testing, teachers developed tests in language more similar to the NECAP form, and they did not give tests, quizzes or major homework assignments immediately prior to or during the testing week.

These steps helped students focus on the test, Johnson said. But the biggest difference came from including the students’ results – proficient with distinction, proficient, partially proficient, among other standings – on their student transcript, which goes out with college applications.

“The key is students taking ownership of their work,” Johnson said. “They all started to take it very seriously.”

Including the test results in student transcripts has been the subject of debate for years in schools across the state, said Kurtz of the Education Department.

Several schools have implemented the strategy, looking to better engage students and assess school curriculum. If students take the matter seriously, “the data you get back … is more likely to show strengths and weaknesses of the program, rather than strengths and weaknesses of students caring,” Kurtz said.

But other schools, including both Nashua North and Nashua South High School, as well as Alvirne High in Hudson, have opted to leave the tests off the college transcripts.

“It’s not really a high-stakes test,” said Bill Hughen, Alvirne High School’s director of guidance. “It’s more for an assessment of our curriculum, not as much the assessment of our students.”

In Merrimack, however, the decision has helped to raise scores, allowing administrators to focus on more important issues: like learning, Johnson said.

“For a while, it was like we couldn’t get out from under that weight (of the test results,” he said. “Now, it’s like we can finally take a look at all the other great things that are happening. … At this point, Merrimack High School has a lot to celebrate.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.
Andy Schneider
andysinnh
 
Posts: 2361
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:04 am
Location: Woodward Rd

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:53 pm

That is great news. My only concern is teaching is being geared toward these tests.
REPUBLICAN - BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE CAN BE ON WELFARE
Jeannine Stergios
 
Posts: 9306
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 6:36 pm
Location: Jessica Drive Merrimack

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby MattPublicover » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:11 am

Jeannine Stergios wrote:That is great news. My only concern is teaching is being geared toward these tests.


That is a valid concern (and a highly liberal one, I might add). But it is only a problem if the test does not accurately reflect the things we want the kids to learn. Obviously, students are not going to be able to absorb all the material on the test in a few days of preparation. The ongoing curriculum must be designed to focus on those areas of learning that the test is measuring. As long as the standards are good, "teaching to the test" is not necessarily a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing if the test becomes the sole focus of education, losing sight of the value of creative and critical thinking skills as a complement to core curriculum mastery. Given the success of our academic teams, and many other examples, that's obviously not a problem in Merrimack High School

I like the idea of having the kids' test scores on the transcript. There is no reason the school's rating should fall victim to student apathy. Tests in general are boring, and there are plenty of them in school. It's not hard to understand why a kid wouldn't sweat a test they know doesn't count in their lives.

Great job, Principal Johnson!
MattPublicover
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 4:00 pm

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby MMK » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:27 am

Jeannine Stergios wrote:That is great news. My only concern is teaching is being geared toward these tests.



That's your only concern? I'm more concerned over that fact that even with this great improvement, less than 50% of students are "proficient" with math!

Am I missing a bigger picture here?
MMK
 
Posts: 419
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:32 pm

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby joeteacher73 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:35 am

Drawing sweeping conclusions for only one year’s results may not be prudent. There was no mention of scores from the 8th grade or the 4th graders who were also tested. Beyond this data, it would be valuable to see how next year’s 11th graders do before we ‘claim victory’.
joeteacher73
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:05 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Dennis King » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:18 am

MMK wrote:
Jeannine Stergios wrote:That is great news. My only concern is teaching is being geared toward these tests.



That's your only concern? I'm more concerned over that fact that even with this great improvement, less than 50% of students are "proficient" with math!

Am I missing a bigger picture here?


I suspect this "timely" report and the selective reporting was to address the current climate as millions of American taxpayers are waking up and wondering just what we are paying for.

First, why compare to other school districts, why not compare to all schools, ie private schools. I wonder what Trinity is producing? I already quoted the Merrimack Charter school 98 percent proficient in Science and 89 percent in math. Just look at that math score and instead of paying a whopping $20,000.00 per student, they do this with a meager $5,500!

I am curious as to how they can pat themselves with a math score that is half the charter school that has 1/4 of the resources. Comparing to other union schools with mediocrity as the goal, well then it is easy to pat yourself on the back and who cares if most of them can not balance a checkbook, as long as they all saw Earth in the balance and support PAYT. After all, that is the most important thing our schools teach our kids: LIBERALISM.
User avatar
Dennis King
 
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2003 10:37 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Dennis King » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:27 am

joeteacher73 wrote:Drawing sweeping conclusions for only one year’s results may not be prudent. There was no mention of scores from the 8th grade or the 4th graders who were also tested. Beyond this data, it would be valuable to see how next year’s 11th graders do before we ‘claim victory’.


I agree, I also love last years stats, 34% in math and 60% in reading, bet they bragged about that too since I am sure other public schools were worse so by their comparison, this mediocrity is acceptable. Think about it, we spend $65 MILLION a year and based on their own tests, 40% of the kids could not read and 66% could not do math. Wow, sure can understand when you improve even a little, man, that is big news. Of course you could have sent your kids to Trinity of some other non public high school and gotten far more for your money.


Merrimack High School: $20,000.00 and lousy reading and math scores

Trinity High School: $8,700 and excellence along with success

The difference: Priceless

Time for school choice, lets get the best teachers, pay them a free market rate based on their ability just like we do on sports teams. We can have excellence if only we allow choice back into the market.
User avatar
Dennis King
 
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2003 10:37 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby RD » Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:40 am

Broken record.
"If you think teachers are your enemy, you should probably reassess who you think your friends are." - Chris Larson
RD
 
Posts: 5689
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 3:49 pm

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Dennis King » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:01 am

RD wrote:Broken record.


Ahh but more and more people are now listening to that record, people are finally waking up. Do not believe any of the so called "polls", the most recent ones were heavily weighted from union homes so Duh!

The simple fact is we have run out of money and now more than at any time, people are now open to other options. It seems the only thing my liberal friends can do is to attack me personally, the statics do not lie so they lie about me. I trust most people can see that and I bet there are a lot of current union workers who would jump at the chance to be paid based on their abilities, of course all that tenured dead wood would have to go and that scares them and it should. When we accept scores like this and actually praise them, well we are in sad shape indeed. Excellence should be the only road for our kids, why in the world have we accepted mediocrity for so long? Easy, it is mandated, they tax us and if we want choice, first we have to pay the $20,000.00 for the school and then we can pay our $8,700 to pay for a quality High School education at Trinity.
Imagine if school was like what we once had with kindergarten. Over 20 schools to choose from and each one competing for our dollars. Now that is the world of real school choice. Why pay double or triple when we can educate our kids for far less and get so much better results. This applies to special ed, slow learners, academically gifted, the sports minded, and the craftsman; all would benefit if education specifically geared to their needs.
time to ring the bell for............

School Choice
User avatar
Dennis King
 
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2003 10:37 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby sabrina » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:52 pm

MMK wrote:
Jeannine Stergios wrote:That is great news. My only concern is teaching is being geared toward these tests.



That's your only concern? I'm more concerned over that fact that even with this great improvement, less than 50% of students are "proficient" with math!

Am I missing a bigger picture here?



Gee, wonder is it is because of that EVERYDAY MATH!!!!
sabrina
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2003 1:18 pm

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Debra Huffman » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:43 pm

I congratulate the high school math department for changing their approach to preparing our students for NECAP testing. I hope this translates into graduating students who are better prepared to succeed in college math programs.

I wish Mr. Berry would have written a more complete article. I would like to see how our students are doing in the NAEP and TIMSS tests. Those statistics are more relevant, since they compare our students on a national and international scale. (NAEP scores may be skewed because I've been told that students are not chosen in a truly random fashion in some schools, so even that comparison isn't perfect.)

The future of our country will be heavily influenced by how well we educate our students in science and math. If we don't get up to international standards - quickly - our economy will suffer irreparable harm.

If any HS math dept faculty are reading: Whatever you need, let us know. You will find a community that is sick of hearing excuses and eager to hear strategies for success. Are the elementary schools sending well-prepared students to middle school? Is the middle school sending well-prepared students to HS? If not, how can we do better?

This issue is too important to drown in the standard bickering.

PS: I'd like to be sure we don't miss this line from the article: "More than 80 percent of Merrimack students are going on to college, Johnson said, and the school has a state champion science team and a nationally competitive alternative energy team." That's some good stuff.
Last edited by Debra Huffman on Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Debra Huffman
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 7:41 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Dennis King » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:54 pm

Debra Huffman wrote:If any HS math dept faculty are reading: Whatever you need, let us know. You will find a community that is sick of hearing excuses and eager to hear strategies for success. Are the elementary schools sending well-prepared students to middle school? Is the middle school sending well-prepared students to HS? If not, how can we do better?


Sure hope whatever they need does not mean MORE MONEY! As it is, we fork over $65 MILLION.

The real question should be, why is it that a charter school in Merrimack can provide 98 percent ratings in science and 89 in math for nearly 1/4 the price we pay for the public school!
User avatar
Dennis King
 
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2003 10:37 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Debra Huffman » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:23 pm

Dennis, the issue of charter schools is important, and the issue of taxes is important, but in my opinion it is not useful for every discussion to be only about those issues. Multi-faceted discussions are also important.

While the occasional burst of temper or enthusiasm is healthy and understandable, courtesy and civility should be the norm in most of our interactions with each other, don't you agree? It is courteous to allow conversations to take multiple paths. We might actually encourage new people to post, and we might learn something from these new voices.
Debra Huffman
 
Posts: 1990
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 7:41 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby Dennis King » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:31 pm

Deb, I am all for praising improvement but feel it must be in context. People post because they want to make a point, that is fine by me. Lots of people support the unions and support the teachers. I do too but I feel we can change the system to a for profit basis and all we need to do is look at the schools that do the same job for far less money and with far better results. Yes, it is great that we moved up to a 40% proficiency on math in town but the charter school got 89% and with nearly 1/4 of the per pupil funds so this is not about money!

How is it they can do that? That is where we should be looking.
User avatar
Dennis King
 
Posts: 2032
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2003 10:37 am

Re: Merrimack’s assessment scores up 25%

Postby andysinnh » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:20 pm

As I sit here on a business trip halfway across the country, I find a positive article about the school district, showing that we're getting some positive results for the money we spend annualy on education. I thought, given all of the negative talk about the schools lately, this would be something to at least change the direction of discussion. Alas, people are taking their particular stance and slanting this story to justify their position, and continue to reiterate misleading data and frankly posting messaging that is detremental in getting people to want to move to Merrimack over the long term. Sometimes I think that the population of this forum will responde to a statement "it's a sunny day outside" with the response "yea, but it will be cloudy and snowy tomorrow, and i'll have to pay for the town plow to clear YOUR road, and I could do it cheaper myself and we're training plow drivers to do a better job at the end of your driveway than you do mine since they like you better...".

Is the budget issue in town real? Yep. Do we have improvement in schools? Yep. Look at the whole picture and recognize the good AND bad and quit using rhetoric to connect the dots here...

andy
Andy Schneider
andysinnh
 
Posts: 2361
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:04 am
Location: Woodward Rd

Next

Return to School Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

cron