Sunday, October 26, 2014
   
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District 20 scores above state average

Ryan Groene and other Gothenburg Public School administrators and teachers have more student performance data at their fingertips.

Recently released data pleases the junior high principal and data coordinator.

“We’re above the state scale core in all categories,” Groene said.

A new Nebraska Performance Accountability System (NePAS) shows NsEA test scores for three years of reading and two years of math and two-year graduation rates across the state.

The NePAS ranks schools by status, improvement and growth in grades three through 12.

Groene explained that status is when districts are ranked by average scale scores in reading, math, writing and science.

Those scores are compared to the results of students in 249 schools, regardless of size.

Gothenburg fared the best in this category in science, ranking 30th, and the lowest in reading with a rating of 88th.

However scores in all four subjects ranked above the state average in this category.

Improvement, Groene said, compares the same scores of different students in reading and math in the same grade.

Overall, Gothenburg students received an average improvement score in reading of 6.31 compared to 3.69 for the state.

Math did not show as much improvement with a -0.39 score compared to 3.92 for the state.

Reading scores ranked 62nd and math results at 189th out of 248 districts.

Groene said growth is measured by the average reading and math scale scores of the same students this year to last year.

Again, student scores showed growth in reading—4.31 compared to 4.90 for the state—but not in math.

Math growth was recorded at -3.04 compared to 3.37 and an overall rank of 215th out of 248 districts.

Nebraska may be ranked fourth nationally in graduation rates but District 20's rate is even higher at 94%.

Groene said NePAS information is helpful.

"It's interesting to look at the improvement and growth areas to see how kids do from year to year," he said.

However he cautioned about putting too much emphasis on the scores because some students don't test well and a myriad of factors can affect a student the days they are tested.

"It's a snapshot worth of test taking for two days out of the school year," Groene said.

He noted that the district has a professional staff that takes pride in the work they do.

"They prepare students not only for statewide tests but to be productive students when they leave the building," Groene said.

The State Board of Education developed NePAS as the new accountability system for Nebraska.

In addition to the NsEA test, students take a PLAN test, which has replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

Groene said PLAN helps students get a feel for the ACT and shows their strengths and weaknesses in different areas.

"It helps prepare them to succeed on the ACT and improves overall assessment scores," he said.

Also, ACT preparatory work has been built into core high school subjects in math, science and reading.

Demographic information about school districts was also released in the report.

The number of free and reduced lunch participants in the district is also lower than the state as is mobility which is based on the number of students who leave and enter the district each year.

District 20 doesn't have enough English language learners to show a percentage since the district is overwhelmingly made up of white students.

Data from the 2011-2012 school year shows 30 Hispanics, three black students, two American Indian or Alaskan natives and an Asian student.

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