Results mixed on new tests for county students

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comOctober 15, 2013 

  • Shaw hearing date set

    The public personnel hearing for former H.E. McCracken Middle School Principal Phillip Shaw has been set for Nov. 1, Beaufort County Board of Education Chairman Bill Evans announced at Tuesday night's school board meeting. The hearing will be at 9:30 a.m. at the district's office, 2900 Mink Point Blvd., Beaufort. It is open to the public.

    Shaw is appealing his termination, approved by the board on July 23 on the recommendation of Superintendent Jeffrey Moss. Before that vote, Shaw had continued to earn his $93,774 annual salary while on leave since Nov. 8.

Beaufort County students had mixed results on fall Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, tests that were aligned with the state's Common Core standards, chief instructional services officer Dereck Rhoads told the school board at Tuesday night's meeting.

This fall was the first time the district used the Common Core MAP assessments, crafted by the Northwest Evaluation Association to align with each state's version of Common Core.

Rhoads presented student test results for grades three through eight at the meeting. In general, the scores for elementary school students went up while scores at the middle-school level went down, he said.

However, Rhoads said that was to be expected, since it was the first time students had taken the next generation of assessments that test them in a much more rigorous way.

The state adopted Common Core in 2010.

Rhoads said the standards are in place locally, but the district will continue to offer professional development and train teachers on the new standards.

Rhoads said the MAP results are crucial to help improve instruction because they monitor student learning at the beginning of the year instead of evaluating what a student learned at the end of it, the way other assessments do.

While most of the scores were below the national norms, Rhoads said, the decreases the district saw were fairly minor. He said school officials expected a dip, with the more rigorous standards.

Board members said they were pleased with the results and that they did not significantly decrease from previous years -- something some feared as Common Core were adopted.

"We were told to anticipate a drop of 30 percent on scores from implementing Common Core, but we're not seeing that," board member Jim Beckert said. "I would like to know what we're doing so well ... because that totally sets on its head what we've heard with Common Core."

Board chairman Bill Evans also said he was pleased with the results and happy to see teachers embracing the new standards.

"I think this is a ray of hope that our teachers are prepared for Common Core and our students are prepared for the standards," he said. "That's encouraging, that our students are doing better than what we were told to expect."

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