By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor
WELCH, WV – Students in grades 3 through 8 across McDowell County Schools recently undertook Comprehensive Interim Assessments (CIAs) to measure mastery levels in English/Language Arts and Mathematics.
Dr. Ingrida Barker gave a presentation on data collected during the assessment, showing areas of weakness and strength across the grade levels.
“There was three days of testing for each child. English and Language Arts, Writing and Math,” said Barker. “We wanted to assess how students are progressing on their skills that they will be tested on in our general summative assessment.”
The CIAs were taken between January 27th and February 27th, 2020, mimicking the structure of the end of year assessment.
“Students still have three months to go before the end of year assessment so we did not expect them to be perfect,” said Barker. “We wanted to see how to address our weaknesses and celebrate our strengths.”
Language Arts mastery was covered by the first data set presented to the Board of Education.
“Last year, third grade was at 36% mastery in Language Arts, now they’re at 32%,” said Barker. “So if we create a good plan to address the skills, we expect to see growth this year.”
4th grade was at 35% last year, and now at 30% with three more months to go before end-of-year testing.
Grade 5 has trended upward over the past three school years, currently at 37% mastery level compared to last year’s final total of 34%.
“Grade 6 is at 25%,” said Barker. “That’s where we need to do quite a bit of work and work with teachers. In some schools, we have new, inexperienced teachers that could use instructional support.”
Grade 7 looked strong, sitting at 44% mastery, up from last year’s 32%.
Grade 8 also showed improvement in English/Language Arts, climbing from 28% last year to 38% mastery during Interim assessments.
“We’re going to monitor our student achievement and instructional plans to see how predictive this data actually is,” said Dr. Barker. “This is the first year we’ve used this Interim assessment for all students.”
In the Mathematics section of the CIAs, some scores showed need for improvement.
“In Grade Three, this is the first time the students begin seeing the online testing platform,” said Barker. “They’re at 25% proficiency compared to last year’s 40% by end of year.”
Grade 4 ended at 30% mastery last year, with students currently at 21% mastery.
Grade 5 is now at 18% mastery compared to last year’s 28%.
Grade 6 is not showing as much of a discrepancy, now at 12% compared to last year’s 13%.
Grade 7 evened out, showing 13% mastery last year and currently.
Grade 8 showed noticeable improvement, climbing to 38% during Interim testing compared to last year’s final result of 24%.
“My meetings with principals this week will focus mainly on mathematics,” said Barker. “We are planning on addressing specific clusters in the data we see to create pacing guides to address the skills that we know are deficient, that the students have not been exposed to yet.”
“Did the types of math change around the 6th or 7th grade,” asked Board member Mike Vallo.
“Not really, usually we see quite a lot of change from grade 5 to 6,” said Barker.
“An inconsistency in teachers is part of the problem,” said Carolyn Failin, Superintendent of MCS.
“I know we’ve seen improvement from our special reading programs,” said Board member Mike Mitchem. “How many math programs do we have in place?”
Barker explained the teachers had consultants working alongside them in classrooms as well as online support.
“I talked to Ms. Peyton today, and we’re working on a plan of attack, so to say on just using curriculum more consistently, making sure we’re all on the same page,” said Barker. “That we’re making sure kids get the skills they need on that online piece or in the textbook, instead of trying to jump in different directions.”
“Can we get the teachers a little extra training in the summertime,” asked Mitchem.
“We do. We have Ms. Campbell, our teacher coach,” said Barker. “We have our math consultants that are here pretty much every week.”
“We have some students that have exceeded mastery already this year,” said Falin. “That’s the first time in a long time we’ve seen that.”
The purpose of the Comprehensive Interim Assessments is to compare data to final testing results at the end of the school year.
“Once we take the end of year assessment, we put this data at the end and see how good we were predicting how well the students would do,” said Falin. “Hopefully like at Grade 8, we’re at 38% mastery. We have until May to close those gaps and hopefully we’ll see that score be even higher. But if not, then we know this test may not be a good prediction of how well they’ll do.”
“I’ve noticed the staff growing each year,” said Mitchem.
“They’re really working hard,” said Falin. “The schools and teachers.”
“That’s why I wanted to give this benchmark now,” said Barker. “It’s not a gotcha for the schools, it’s just to have a measuring stick to say where are we.”
Also at Monday’s Board of Education meeting:
– Ruben Wright addressed the Board of Education about a grievance against them.
– The Board of Education was informed about coronavirus preparations in the school system.
“We’ve been stocked up because of the flu and we’re having a Central Office meeting to go over all of that. It’s basically the same as flu prep, the number one thing is washing your hands.”
“The janitors are still cleaning with disinfectants,” asked Mitchem.
“What about door knobs,” asked Vallo.
“Doorknobs, they’ve done all of that. They’re even letting off disinfectant bombs over night. They’re expensive but that’s what we’ve been doing.”
– In the Superintendent’s Update, Falin addressed the public hearings concerning the calendar year for the following school year, but no one attended to meeting to speak. A second opportunity for public comment will be at the next BOE meeting, Monday, March 16th, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Center in Welch.