Education graphic

Council Bluffs students are generally improving their scores on the Measures of Academic Progress test but face steep goals set by the Council Bluffs Community School District.

The assessment, which covers math and reading, is given every fall, winter and spring to all students in kindergarten through 11th grades. This fall, testing was done during the first two weeks of September, Corey Vorthmann, chief academic officer, reported during the Board of Education’s last meeting.

The district’s goal is for 80 percent of the students to score in the average, high average or high categories on the test by 2021.

The percentage of students reaching those levels has risen by 1.76% since the test was first given in spring 2018, Vorthmann said. That brings the district average to 52.26%.

“We have a slight upward trend for kindergarten through 11th grade,” he said. “What we like to see is about 1.5% each year.”

The district wants to set the bar high to encourage better achievement, Superintendent Vickie Murillo said.

“Reaching 80% of students scoring average, high average or high by 2021 is an ambitious goal; but by keeping our expectations high, we believe that our students will continue to make progress toward their goals,” she said when asked later how realistic the district’s goal is.

Students in second grade were taking the test independently for the first time, Vorthmann said. In kindergarten and first grade, teachers administer the test. By third grade, students have adjusted, he said. There were also small drops for students in seventh and 10th grades in math.

“I believe the students are becoming more comfortable with each MAP test administration,” Murillo said.

In reading, the percentage of students who achieved marks in the top three levels increased by 5.8% from spring 2018 to fall 2019, reaching a rate of 59.59%, Vorthmann said.

“That’s a tremendous amount of growth,” he said. “That’s about three times what is typical. Our implementation has been longer and deeper in reading than it has been in mathematics. You can see a slight upward trend as well in the reading growth.”

There was a dip for students entering second grade and a slight dip for ninth, Vorthmann said.

Another district goal is for 60% of students to achieve their individual growth targets on MAP math and reading tests by 2021. Students also have short-term goals, Murillo said.

“Students have individualized goals they help set after each test administration,” she said. “In just the first year of students taking the MAP assessment, we were pleased that 49% met their individual winter-to-spring goals in both reading and math.”

Also by 2021, the district wants 100% of students to demonstrate growth as measured by the MAP math and reading assessments.

Most students do achieve growth over the long term, but scores fluctuate from one test to the next, statistics released in conjunction with the board meeting show.

The district plans to use a three-pronged approach to help boost achievement, Vorthmann said:

• Set growth goals with students

• Intensify support for classrooms in need

• Monitor and review student achievement data

The administration will look at student performance and growth from the fall assessment after the next round of testing in February, he said. After the May assessment, the administration will look at performance and growth over three time spans: fall to spring, winter to spring, spring 2018 to spring 2019 and spring 2018 to spring 2020.

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