Results released for new social studies, science tests
The first round of Colorado Measures of Academic Success test results were released this week, setting a baseline for years to come.
Fourth- and seventh-graders took the first social studies tests based on the Colorado Academic Standards this spring, while fifth- and eighth-graders tackled science. High school seniors will be assessed on both subjects for the first time in early November. The tests are designed to complement upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests in English and math, which debut this school year.
CMAS is administered online, which allows for interactive simulations and real-time adjustments for a more accurate score. It also adheres to a different, more rigorous set of standards than its predecessor tests — Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) and Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP). Categories including “proficient” and “advanced” have been replaced with “limited command,” “moderate command,” “strong command” and “distinguished command.”
So far, most students statewide aren’t making it past “moderate command,” with just 17 percent scoring strong and distinguished in fourth- and seventh-grade social studies. They fared better in science, with 34 percent of fifth-graders and 32 percent of eighth-graders rating strong and distinguished.
Across the grades and content areas, significant gaps were found between the highest-scoring race/ethnicity subgroup and the black and Hispanic subgroups in terms of percent of students achieving strong or distinguished command.
The gap between students identified as having limited or no English proficiency and others was between 33 and 35 percentage points for science and between 18 and 19 percentage points for social studies.
Gaps also showed up between students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and their peers, with between 28 and 32 percentage points in science and between 19 and 20 percentage points in social studies.
A slightly higher percentage of girls scored in the strong or distinguished command levels compared with boys in each subject, with a 1 percent difference in both fifth- and eighth-grade science, a 2 percent margin in fourth-grade social studies, and a 5 percent lead in seventh-grade social studies.
Locally, Garfield School District Re-2 led the way, beating the state with 25 percent strong and above in fourth-grade social studies and 39 percent in fifth-grade science. Re-2 students fell short in seventh-grade social studies and were just under average in eighth-grade science.
Roaring Fork School District trailed the state in each grade, although its students lead the county for seventh-grade social studies, with 11 percent strong or better. RFSD tied Re-2 with 31 percent in eighth-grade science.
“This data is the first assessment given to our students that measures our students’ grasp of the Colorado Academic Standards. Both the standards, and the assessments are harder, and this data is the new baseline,” said Re-2 Superintendent Susan Birdsey. “There is no doubt that the expectations are higher. Our initial data shows that overall, all of the work that our teachers, administrators and support staff have done in the last two years to implement the standards, create effective unit designs, and support students and families is on the right track.”
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