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State Testing Results from 2015-16

On September 16, 2016 the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) published test scores from the previous school year (2015-16) for all school districts.

The test results that are released are from last spring, when 3rd-8th and 11th grade students participated in the Nebraska State Accountability Tests (NeSA).  The statewide reading test (NeSA-R), and math test (NeSA-M) were given in grades 3-8, 11. NeSA-S (science) was taken by grades 5, 8, and 11. Statewide writing (NeSA-W) was taken by students in grades 4, 8, 11.

Parents will receive an "Individual Student Report" to be sent from school on September 23. More detailed information regarding public schools in Nebraska will be available in the State of Schools Report, which will be released to the public by NDE later this fall.

The vast majority of students in our district scored as proficient on the NeSA. Our goal is to demonstrate growth each year with the same group of students.  As part of our school improvement process and professional development work we dig into the data. This allows us to examine trends and is one way to measure growth over time. We continue to make adjustments based on the information.

Student proficiency levels were 73%, 90%, and 81% respectively in grades 4, 8, and 11 for NeSA-W (writing). State averages for NeSA-W have been withheld due to questions about scoring. The highest percent of students proficient for NeSA-R (reading) in our district was 94% of students in grade 7 and 90% of students in grade 4 meeting or exceeding standards. Additionally, 88% of last year's 8th grader, 85% of 3rd graders, and 83% of last year's 11th graders met or exceeded state standards on the NeSA-R. 

Science (NeSA-S) results were highest in 8th grade with 87% of students meeting or exceeding standards, and 84% of 11th graders compared to the state average of 68% in grade 8 and 74% in grade 11. The best percentage proficient for NeSA-M (math) was 84% in 7th grade, 79% proficient in 11th grade and 76% proficient in 8th grade. Math continues to be an area of emphasis in our district. We previously implemented new math curriculum at the elementary grades and in 2016-17 we are implementing new math curriculum for grades 6-12. We have provided teacher training in math and hired additional, experienced math teachers as part of our process to make desired improvements. We have also increased the number of students enrolled in advanced math classes at the middle school and high school levels.  

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NeSA information is important, yet it is not our primary focus, nor will we draw conclusions from just the NeSA data. No single test score can tell the full story about the performance of an individual student, a school building or a district. One test cannot reflect all of the learning that takes place. These tests are taken on one day out of the entire school year. 

We are teaching students to be prepared for a life full of complex problems that rarely allows us to select one choice from a menu of options. The world is open ended, thus our educational system should spend a great deal of instructional time preparing students to figure out how to succeed outside of a classroom environment. Make no mistake, our school district has, and will continue to, provide opportunities to learn all of the required state content standards. We will continue to help students be successful on tests. There were dozens of perfect NeSA scores in our district, yet there were also students that scored at or below proficiency levels. Each year we dig deeper into the information to identify which students performed well, which did not, and determine how we are going to help every student improve, individually and collectively. 

Our "Commitment to Excellence" is to provide the best possible educational opportunities for all students. That encompasses more than NeSA testing. I have visited classrooms in our district from Kindergarten to Calculus, and school activities ranging from football to National Honor Society. The common thread interwoven into all that we do are our District Essential outcomes. We are helping students discover their talents and abilities, providing guidance to develop their strengths, and celebrate each student’s unique characteristics as they begin to uncover the person they want to be and will become. We will ensure students are learning state academic standards. The greater purpose of public education is to create an educated citizenry. We will use our curriculum as the means to help students acquire the 21st Century skills that our students need

We should use the NeSA results as an accountability measure, to celebrate the positive results, while challenging ourselves in the areas where we can continue to improve. Visit the Nebraska Department of Education website for details. 

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