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Reading assessment results

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

The State of Nebraska began statewide reading assessments two years ago so that parents, citizens, school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers and elected officials could compare results from one district to another. This data can be very helpful in improving both student and school academic achievement performance.

In the spring of every year, students are tested in grades 3-8 and 11. The students who met or exceeded the reading assessment standards in all grades increased from 69% in 2010 to 72% this year. I would like to congratulate all of our schools that have excelled in reading assessment for 2011 and focus on our high school performance.

For purposes of comparison, the school districts are reported by their sports classification. Among the 27 Class A public high schools, the top five reading assessment scores were for 2011 were Millard West, Papillion LaVista South, Lincoln East, Millard North and Papillion LaVista.

In Class B, the top five high schools were Norris, Elkhorn South, Bennington, Gretna and Aurora. There were eight schools that had significant improvement in their scores from 2010 to 2011. Those were Blair, Grand Island Northwest, Gretna, Hastings, Nebraska City, Norris, Sidney and York.

Since there are more high schools in Class C-1 and C-2 than in Class A or B, I have identified the top 10 high schools in C-1 and C-2. For C-1, the top 10 reading assessment scores in 2011 were Arlington, Centennial, Wayne, Fillmore Central, Logan View, Syracuse, Ainsworth, Conestoga, Chadron and Milford.

The most improved C-1 scores from 2010 to 2011 were Arlington, Battle Creek, Centennial, Centura, Chadron, Conestoga, Cozad, Fairbury, Fillmore Central, Logan View, Madison, Syracuse and Wayne.

In C-2, the top10 reading assessment scores in 2011 were Hershey, Palmyra, Crofton, Elmwood-Murdock, Chase County, Ponca, Laurel-Concord, Ravenna, West Holt and Thayer Central.

The most improved C-2 scores from 2010 to 2011 were Blue Hill, Chase County, Crofton, Dundy County, Humboldt-Table Rock, Morrill, Oakland-Craig, Plainview, Ponca, Ravenna, Southern Valley, Superior, Thayer Central, Twin River, Wakefield and Weeping Water.

Among smaller schools, the top 10 reading assessment scores in 2011 were Bertrand, Bloomfield and Loomis with a 100% score. The next seven were Johnson Brock, High Plains Community, Cody-Kilgore, Maxwell, Kenesaw, Howells and Sterling.

The most improved small schools scores were Anselmo-Merna, Bertrand, Cedar Bluffs, East Butler, Elm Creek, High Plains Community, Kenesaw, Loomis, Maxwell, Mead, Pawnee City, Pender, Shelby, Southwest and Sterling. For privacy concerns, federal law does not allow education data to be reported publicly if a high school class has 10 or less students.

If you would like to know your high school's reading assessment scores for 2010 and 2011 go to our website at www.governor.nebraska.gov and click on the "column" icon.

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Sports enrollment may not be the best method to make comparisons. Educational research indicates that poverty rates and family status are better indicators of predicted academic success. Generally speaking schools with higher free/reduce lunch populations will, as a group, score lower than those with lower numbers in that catagory.

-- Posted by dennis on Fri, Dec 9, 2011, at 11:23 AM

You might also add that schools located in more populated areas, ie... Lincoln & Omaha areas - and surrounding communities, recieve more money in general... from both state and federal sectors.

You might also add that those areas, in general, contain padded statistics when it comes to minority group enrollment, as history shows, populated areas usually attract more so called "minority" groups. Minority grouping also allows for more monetary aid to those same areas.

Therefore, those areas that are scoring the highest obviously will show "higher" scoring, as they have more money on the line. Do all of the reports, and scores have to be completely honest??? I wonder.

-- Posted by cplcac on Fri, Dec 9, 2011, at 7:48 PM

Sports classification is determined by school enrollment not sports enrollment.

-- Posted by npwinder on Sat, Dec 10, 2011, at 3:47 PM

lol. Dennis you so silly. He was comparing schools of similar student population which determines sports class. This is an easy way for people to see how they are doing compared to schools of similar size. This also has nothing to do with finding out who is scoring higher between poor and rich districts. It is to find out which schools are lagging behind, excelling, and making improvement.

-- Posted by carlsonl on Sat, Dec 10, 2011, at 4:31 PM

carlsonl---sorry I was not more clear. My point was and is that comparing schools by population alone does not give a clear picture of what schools are doing well and which neeed improvement. The research indicates that the main factor in academic achievement is the economic status of parents. Comparing districts of the same economic status would be a better indicator than population. Yes you can compare by size but that does not give a true picture of how well the school is achieving. A house made of straw and a house made of bricks can be the same size but the raw material (students) is what makes the difference.

-- Posted by dennis on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:38 AM

Yes that may be a key factor in student performance. But class size (student to teacher ratio) has also been shown to make a difference. So depending on what you are wanting to take from this assessment would be how you would compare the results. Also I am guessing he went with the easy already listed school classification.

Just out of curiousity what would you fit McCook under as I am sure there is a decent precentage of students that attend that would fit under the technical term of poverty.

-- Posted by carlsonl on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:48 AM

Class size does make a difference on elementary/middle level classes. Secondary class size has less impact. I think you are right that the classification used by the state is the easiest. My guess is that, looking at the average wages in Western Ne. that McCook would have a high poverty rate. I would also venture to guess that the valuation per student in McCook is much less than that in the bigger communities in the east.

-- Posted by dennis on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 3:55 PM

I think I might disagree with you a bit on the secondary classes. Although in high school I never had a class any bigger then maybe 20 other then band I did experience it in college. I had several classes of around 20 and one class of 150+ in college. I found that it was much easier to learn in the small classes because you were more involved, which led to less study time outside of class. The 150+ class felt more like you were just being spoke to and were just a number. This required quite a bit of time outside of the classroom. But, this may be my own personal experience or might have been just the lack of experience with a classroom setting of that size.

I do think that both a small school and a large school have their benefits and their downfalls. Small schools tend to have the more personalized teaching but offer fewer classes, sports, and clubs to be apart of. On the flip side the larger schools may not be as personal but kids have more opportunities to find that thing they are into.

I also think if we could give the schools back the power of being able to fire a teacher based on performance that would help more then anything. Anymore if they have their tenure they have to do something extreme to get fired and even then it can be a fight.

I would suggest people should take the time to watch "Waiting for Superman". It would shed some light on what is going on in these large city schools. Although because of the nature of the program some of the things may be dramatized, I think it probably gives a pretty good look at what is going on.

-- Posted by carlsonl on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:04 PM

I agree smaller classes would be better K-12 and in college. The research indicates the most academic help is in the lower grades however. Great movie suggestion. I am thankful that rural Nebraska does not have the degree of problems of the inner city schools. Tenure and having hands tied on student discipline are big concerns everywhere. Students have also changed where some do not see the value in education and their parents also are fine with the kids just going to school to get free babysetting, free meals and health care.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 10:40 AM

I know this has nothing to do with this article or topic (or maybe it does a bit). I am curious how do you feel about parents rewarding their kids for good grades. I personally never got rewarded from my parents but did get a bit of a scolding if my grades were below my ability. But, as a parent of 5 and 3 being in school at this time I have opened up on the thought of it. For instance my oldest son was blessed with the ability to retain almost everything he reads and does very well in school (97's and higher) without the need for dad or mom to encourage him. My daughter on the other hand also being smart enough to grasp things as she is an A student but she requires alittle more oversight and incentive to put in the extra time she needs. My second son is just starting but I am starting to realize that he will require significant amounts of parental guidance to want to learn. He picks up on things quickly but is easily bored of them and quickly goes on to something else. I have started a bit a reward system in that good grades at the end of each quarter results in some sort of family activity like a trip to the movie theatre or bowling ect.

I have heard that many parents would disagree with doing this. My thought is at a young age it is hard to get a child to understand that good grades and study habits will pay off 15-20 years from now. So I go by the thought of little rewards along the way isn't so bad.

Just curious what you and any other parents on here might feel about this. And if they are against it if they have any suggestions.

-- Posted by carlsonl on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 10:53 AM

I am from an entire different generation where the expectation was you do your best and if you did not you received the opposite of a reward....However, if a child exceeds expectations a reward, I beleive is fine. I do think the reward should not be money or an object but that you would take them out to eat, to a ball game or some activity where you can interact/talk with them. Give them the gift of your time.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 2:23 PM

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