State testing results show improvement at all Quay County schools

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

The 2015-2016 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests show growth in all three Quay County public schools.

PARCC scores were released last week.

Logan, Tucumcari and San Jon elementary, middle schools and high schools all showed growth in student proficiency in English language arts and math.

PARCC tests students from third grade through 11th grade in English language arts and math, including algebra and geometry, said Arron McKinney, Tucumcari’s superintendent.

McKinney said the PARCC testing is actually measuring the yearly growth of students. He said this system is new and educators and administrators are still learning how to interpret the results.

The PARCC test is in its second year of use by the New Mexico Public Education Department. It was  developed to replace another state-standardized test for a more modern assessment, said Logan Municipal Schools Superintendent Dennis Roch.

Roch said the PARCC test provides ways for teachers and parents to determine where a student needs help, or is excelling, so they are able to enhance instruction to meet individual student needs. He said teachers can also use the data to change and improve the way they teach the curriculum.

PARCC records scores from Level 1 —  did not meet expectations — through Level 5, which means exceeded expectations.

All three Quay County public school systems showed areas of growth in proficiency and decreases in the percentage of students not meeting proficiency.

“For Logan Elementary, we had more than 53 percent of the fifth-grade students meet or exceed the expectations and state average in English language arts,” said Roch. He said in this type of testing you want to come in below the state average on failing to meet and be above the state average of meeting and exceeding.

“In theory, the test is designed to help (ensure) our teachers’ methods of teaching the curriculum is successful,” said Tucumcari Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Dave Johnson.

Johnson said administrators and school principals are working on breaking the PARCC results down to better understand where they stand. He said there are many bright spots on the list, including the middle schools algebra 1 testing that shows 37.8 percent meeting and exceeding expectations.

“However, if you would combine the score of the eighth-grade math it would show that more than 52 percent of the students tested were meeting or exceeding expectation, or the state average,” Johnson said.

“Our goal is the same as the state to have every student meet or exceed expectation on the test,” Johnson said. “Although as educators, we know that simply will not be the case.”

Johnson said, in theory, the system is supposed to help educators compare how the third grade is progressing and if the now fourth-graders are showing a year’s growth when tested again.

“In a way, this gives teachers what they need, a measuring stick, to be able to see their progress and identify the areas that need improvement,” he said.

McKinney said the PARCC test is a measuring tool for the schools to see student growth.

Roch said the PARCC system helps educators see if they have been able to close gaps and help students in areas where they are or have been struggling. He said in the long run, this system is designed to help the development of the student throughout school into high school where the stakes are much higher with competency testing and college readiness tests.

“The PARCC system is working toward making students successful as they transition through the different levels of their education,” Roch said. “Ultimately, it is designed to have our students better prepared for success in their pursuit of higher education after graduation.”

Roch said one of the main reasons for an increase of proficiency in the math portion of the PARCC for Logan schools is the change in math curriculum. He said in the first year of the PARCC, Logan schools were using a new style of math curriculum that didn’t go over so well with the students.

“It was decided that the previous math curriculum worked better for the students,” Roch said.

In addition to the growth by the students at San Jon schools, graduating students had also scored higher on their college-entrance exams, said Colin Taylor, San Jon superintendent.

“I am very pleased with the PARCC results but we still have some work to do,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the main area for improvement is in math. He said the school is working on developing curriculum to improve the math growth at the school.

“This year’s results did, however, show the effort put in by the teachers to improve the reading and language arts,” Taylor said. “The schools have done really well. There is still room for improvement and plans are in place to make those improvements possible.”

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