Mixed Bag of Results on Derry School District Tests

The Derry Cooperative School District had a mixed bag of results on its final fall NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) test.

The district showed some percentages slightly above the state average and some slightly below. Though it’s the last NECAP for math, reading and writing, Mary Ann Connors-Krikorian, assistant superintendent for curriculum for Derry’s School Administrative Unit (SAU) 10, said Derry will mine the results for data to continue to help its students to improve, and will “take it seriously.”

Derry third-graders hovered below the state average in math and reading for Level 4, Proficient With Distinction, and Level 3, Proficient. Derry had 18 percent in Level 4 for reading, compared to a state average of 21 percent in Level 4, and 53 percent in Level 3 for reading, compared to a state average of 56 percent. In math, third-graders were 22 percent Level 4, compared to a state average of 24 percent, and 45 percent in Level 3, compared to a state average of 46 percent.

But Derry’s fourth-graders beat the state in Level 3 reading, 53 percent to the state’s 52 percent, and math, 30 percent of Derry fourth-graders in Level 4 compared to a state average of 27 percent. Derry’s fifth-graders had 63 percent in Level 3 for reading, compared to a state average of 59 percent, and 56 percent in Level 3 math compared to a state average of 52 percent. Fifth-graders also beat the state in writing in Level 3, 49 percent to the state’s 46 percent.

Seventh-grade math took a hit, 19 percent in Level 4 compared to the state’s 27 percent. Eighth-grade math was 17 percent in Level 4, compared to a state average of 21 percent, and 39 percent in Level 3, compared to a state average of 43 percent. But eighth-graders also beat the state in writing in Level 3, 52 percent to a state average of 51 percent.

Connors-Krikorian said she has scheduled meetings with each building principal for what she calls “item analysis.”

“We will look at where we’re good and where we need to improve,” she said. They will delve deeply into each school’s results and also into individual student results, she said.

Connors-Krikorian added that Derry looks at NECAP as one piece of the assessment puzzle. In the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) test, also administered this fall, Derry students beat the national average in every grade except second grade, she said.

For those second-graders, it’s the first time they’ve taken a NWEA aligned with the Common Core standards, she said.

The leadership team also looks at daily classroom performance, according to Connors-Krikorian.
Connors-Krikorian said the district is also looking ahead to the Smarter Balanced test, which will replace the NECAPs. The NECAP is aligned to the current New Hampshire GLEs (grade-level expectations), while Smarter Balanced is aligned to the Common Core standards that the district recently adopted.

She added that the faculty and administration don’t wait for a test result to come out. “We are always assessing, always looking at student progress,” she said.

Connors-Krikorian said there are four main questions she and her team ask:

• What do they want students to learn;
• How will they know if the student has learned what the curriculum intended them to learn;
• If the student hasn’t learned, what is the plan to address that; and
• What do they do with the students who have already learned the material?

“We are continuously working on the curriculum, and working to improve instructional strategies,” she said.

Connors-Krikorian said the district promotes a team approach, involving teachers, administrators, parents and especially students. The School Board is also invested, she said.

“We continue to take it seriously,” Connors-Krikorian said. “If we don’t, we are doing a disservice to our students.”

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