The Appoquinimink School District set some of the highest marks in Delaware on this year's round of state standardized tests, according to data released last week.
Out of Delaware's 16 public school districts, Appoquinimink, as a whole, recorded the highest percentage of students who met the standard on the reading, math and social studies portions of the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS).
The district also had the second-highest percentage of students meet the standard on the science portion of the test, behind only the Cape Henlopen School District.
"We're very pleased by the 2013 test results," Superintendent Matthew Burrows. "They demonstrate a high level of achievement and very real progress in closing achievement gaps – a key objective of our strategic plan. We've been focused on early adoption of the Common Core state standards in math and reading, and I have to believe that has positioned us for success. Additionally, I credit the outstanding work of our staff and students, and the support we receive from parents."
Jeff Klein, the school district's coordinator of research, development and evaluation, said he also is encouraged by the testing data.
"But in Appoquinimink, we believe there are always areas of improvement, and that's what we'll be focusing on the coming school year," he said.
This was the third year students in Delaware took the DCAS and, like the rest of the state, Appoquinimink saw only slight variations in student achievement compared to the significant jumps recorded from the first and second years the standardized tests were administered.
"You always see a big increase from the first to the second year of a standardized test," Klein said. "But then those differences become far less dramatic after that, as the students get used to it."
On the reading portion of the test, 84 percent of students in Grades 3 through 10 meet the standard, a slight decline from last year, but 9 percentage points greater than the rest of the state, which saw a similar decline this year.
In math, 82.6 percent of Appoquinimink students in Grades 3 through 10 meet the standard, another slight decline from last year, but 13.7 percentage points greater than the rest of the state, which also saw a decline.
On the social studies portion of the test, which is administered only to Grades 4 and 7, Appoquinimink students saw a slight gain from last year with 77.2 percent attaining proficiency, 14.1 percentage points greater than the rest of the state, where a similar gain was made.
Appoquinimink saw a statistically significant drop of 5 percentage points this year among students achieving proficiency on the science portion of the test, which is administered to Grades 5, 8 and 10. By comparison, the rest of the state saw a single-percentage point decline.
Page 2 of 3 - GRADE LEVELS
The district saw more significant variations across grade levels, where students from this year's classes are compared to students in the same grade level last year.
Third graders saw a 4.4 percentage point decline in reading proficiency and a 3.14 percentage point decline in math proficiency, compared to last year's students.
Fourth grade remained relatively flat in reading and math, while posting a 3.32-percentage point gain on the social studies portion of the DCAS.
Fifth grade saw declines on all three portions of the test it took, including a 2.39 percentage point drop in students meeting the standard for reading, a 6.07 percentage point drop in math and a 5.11 percentage point drop in science.
Sixth grade remained relatively even on the reading test while increasing the percentage of students testing proficient in math by 3.07 points.
Seventh and ninth grades remained relatively even in the percentage of students testing proficient in reading and math, while eighth grade remained steady on the reading, math and science tests.
Tenth grade was the only grade level to post across-the-board gains in student proficiency with a 2.33 percentage point jump in reading, a 2.26 percentage point increase in math and a 2.37 percentage point improvement in science.
Individual schools also saw statistically significant fluctuations in their test score data this year, as compared to last year.
Olive B. Loss Elementary School, for instance, recorded the highest percentage of students in the district to achieve proficiency in reading (91 percent), science (92) and social students (92.6), as well as the second highest in math (86.8).
Yet the school also saw declines compared to last year on three of the four tests, including a 6.5 percentage point drop in math, as well as a 14 percentage point gain in science – the largest negative and positive swing on those tests, respectively.
Appoquinimink High School, conversely, was the only school in the district to show improvement across all of its core subject areas, despite having some of the lowest percentages of students in the district meeting the state standard in reading (79.8) and science (48). The school had one of the top percentages for student achieving the state standard in math (83.1), where it also saw an improvement compared to last year.
Several schools saw declines in all the core subjects for which their students were tested.
Middletown High School, for instance, saw small declines in reading, math and social studies, although it still recorded some of the highest percentages of proficiency in the district.
Other schools that have not performed as well in the past continued to struggle this year, including Brick Mill, Cedar Lane and Silver Lake elementary schools.
Page 3 of 3 - SUBGROUPS
As a district, Appoquinimink also posted some of the highest percentages of students achieving the state standard among various minority subgroups.
The district had the highest percentage of African-American students meet the standard in all four core content areas, compared to the other 15 public school districts in the state, school officials said.
Appoquinimink also had the largest percentage of Hispanic students meet the state standard in reading and science, while placing among the top five districts for math and social studies.
Students from low-income families – those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches – and students with special needs meeting the state standard in all four core content areas also placed the district among the top five in the state, officials said.
Check this week's Middletown Transcript for a chart that compares districtwide results to the rest of the state, as well as individual school performance over the last three years of testing. A searchable breakdown of DCAS performance by state, district, grade, school and subgroup also can be found at www.doe.K12.de.us.