Blue Ridge board reviews testing data

Blue Ridge Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Matthew Nebzydoski reviewed the state’s new Future Ready Index data on student achievement at the Tuesday, Nov. 27 board meeting.
“This is the first time we’ve seen positive growth as students cross the buildings,” Nebzydoski reported as he noted that most areas saw improvement.
He also said that Blue Ridge exceeded the state and national average on student Advance Placement exams.
Nebzydoski said the elementary test performance was strong with the fourth grade science scores “off the charts” with almost 90 percent of the students tested achieving a finding of proficient or advanced.
“I thing the elementary school can be very, very proud,” he said. Students who did not test at proficient or advance in subject areas showed growth – another criteria in the overall state assessment score.
Not all the news was positive, as Nebzydoski noted student performance in mathematics.
“We recognize this is our Achilles heel,” Nebzydoski said, “especially middle school math.”
He did, however, say that two times as many students pass the algebra Keystone exam – an exam initially launched to be used as a statewide graduation requirement – than reach proficient or advanced on the 8th grade PSSA.
In order to bring up those scores, the district has adjusted student schedules to supplement math instruction in grades 6 and 8-10. The small groups of students receive more individualized focus and work on core math skills, Nebzydoski said.
Superintendent Matthew Button said the district hopes to see better results with the “drastic changes made this year.”
He also said the district will need to look at testing data over the next several years. One area they may be looking at is whether sixth grade students are developmentally ready to be in middle school. That determination wouldn’t like be made before the 2020-21 school term.
If the grade is absorbed into the elementary school, Button said it would require the board to hire more staff. “We’re not there yet,” he said adding they would need to look at the 2019-20 to see if there are notable benefits to the strategy now in place. “More data is needed at our end.”

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