DENVER – A new era in state standardized testing has begun and according to the results released by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Douglas County School District students continue the trend of performing above the state average, as they have done with prior statewide assessments.
Today, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) released PARCC scores for all Colorado school districts. The PARCC tests were administered in spring 2015 in two areas: English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Students in third through eleventh grades were eligible to participate in PARCC testing.
Access to state, District and school averages will be available on the CDE’s website. Parents of participating students will receive a copy of their child’s results in the near future by mail.
CDE: PARCC Parent Resources
According to the CDE, PARCC test results cannot be compared to previous tests like the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) because the focus and methodology of the two tests differ greatly.
“This is the first year we have utilized PARCC in Colorado,” said Chief System Performance Officer Matt Reynolds. “With PARCC being a new test, we do not have data from previous years for comparison. As with prior state-wide assessments, DCSD students continue the trend of outperforming the rest of the state.”
VIDEO: Chief System Performance Officer Matt Reynolds speaks about PARCC
Following the implementation of PARCC, several other states, including Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and New Mexico, have seen a decrease in student performance.
READ MORE: Chicago Tribute: New PARCC results difficult to compare
NJ.com: How do N.J. PARCC scores compare to other states?
Interim Commissioner of Education, Elliott Asp, has encouraged parents to still share the report with their child, but to only consider the PARCC results as a new baseline.
CDE: How to Use the Test Results to Support Your Student
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"PARCC is a new assessment. It is one data point that we will take into consideration within its appropriate context. I am proud of our staff and students who continue to outperform the state," said Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen.
In addition to other changes, the PARCC test now uses five performance levels to report student performance. Previous state standardized tests, including Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) and TCAP utilized a four point system.
The graphs below display the PARCC results with the highest-performing students on the bottom.
2015 PARCC Results
As is evident in the graphs, DCSD students in grades fourth through eighth performed best on the ELA tests.
In Math, we saw a similar trend.
Student choice impacts test scores
Starting in eighth grade, however, the overall test results fluctuate, because students had the ability to choose the test that matched the subjects they were studying. For instance, instead of taking the eighth-grade test, if they were in Algebra, they likely opted for the Algebra test (a ninth-grade test), where 52 percent of students scored a 4 (met expectations) or a 5 (exceeded expectations).
Parent opt-outs impact test scores
DCSD saw a strong trend of non-participation, including parents choosing to opt their children out of state standardized tests, with the lowest participation rate seen in the eleventh-grade ELA test. Only 18.7 percent of students eligible to take that test actually participated.
Low participation rates may have an impact on the scoring, said Reynolds.
In DCSD, the average participation rate was approximately 70 percent across all grade levels. The majority of opt-outs were seen at the higher grade levels.
“We support our parents in doing what is best for their child,” said Fagen. “We understand that many of our high school students and parents value assessments that are relevant to their futures, like the ACT – which is why we saw far greater participation in that test.”
In fact, according to new state figures, the number of DCSD eleventh-graders who participated in the Colorado ACT test remained on par. In 2015, 4,142 chose to take the test, compared to 4,172 in 2014.
The District’s overall ACT composite score this year is 21.9, nearly two points above the state average.
Meanwhile, the state also reported that DCSD’s graduation rate continues to inch up, to 88.9 percent.
DCSD’s dropout rate continues to be extremely low, at 0.8 percent.
Changes ahead for PARCC
Moving forward, state officials have made changes to PARCC testing for 2016. Testing time has been reduced by 90 minutes. Students in grades 10 and 11 will no longer be required to take the PARCC tests.
Denver Post: PARCC test school results show familiar trends, wide gaps in participation
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