By SEAN ROWLEY
Tahlequah Public Schools students in grades 3-8 are testing well in some areas, but in other areas, not so much.
During the Sept. 9 meeting of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education, Anita Lightcap, special programs coordinator for TPS, summarized the performance of students on core tests near the close of the 2012-’13 academic year.
The Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests were administered districtwide to students, measuring proficiency in four subjects. Results are used by TPS to gauge instructional methods.
“We work hard to implement the best practices, but I can say that it is a moving target, always changing,” said Lisa Presley, TPS superintendent.
A couple of targets that changed on the tests were the proficiency cutoffs and the writing exam, Lightcap said.
“On the old writing test, students were asked to complete a sentence,” she said. “Now they are asked to write a response from literature. They read something, respond to it and cite evidence for their opinion or argument.”
Lightcap said new proficiency standards are established after field-testing of changes to the test.
“When the tests are returned, the standards are reassessed and cutoffs reset,” she said. “We believe these changes affected our science and writing scores in the fifth and eighth grades.”
Lightcap also summarized for board members the results of the Oklahoma Modified Alternative Assessment Program test. The exams are administered to children with special needs, and often include small numbers.
Lightcap said science and writing scores for fifth and eighth grades were down, but added that the district always evaluates its teaching practices, regardless of test results.
“Of course, we are concerned about where we score low, but just because a group tests high doesn’t mean you don’t assess your room for growth,” she said. “We always look for ways to improve student performance. The principals will receive these results. They will use them to look at children individually, design tutoring for groups and help children within these groups get to where they need to be.”
Proficiency or pass rates on the OCCT among TPS third-graders were 74 percent for reading and 76 percent for math. The respective OMAAP scores were 56 and 38 percent.
Percentages for fourth grade were 69 in reading and 71 in math. OMAAP percentages were 69 in reading and 81 in math.
Fifth-graders tested in four areas. Proficiency rates were 66 percent in reading, 73 percent in math, 48 percent in science and 46 percent in writing. OMAAP rates were 34 percent for reading, 67 in math and 23 in science. There was no OMAAP assessment of writing for fifth grade.
Proficiency rates on the OCCT among sixth-graders were 69 percent for reading and 79 percent for math. Respective OMAAP scores were 38 and 69 percent.
Percentages for seventh grade were 76 in reading and 60 in math. OMAAP percentages were 62 in reading and 37 in math.
There were four testing areas for eighth-graders, who scored 86 percent in reading, 56 in math, 55 in science and 60 in writing. OMAAP rates were 81 percent for reading, 53 percent in math and 100 percent in science. There was no OMAAP test of writing for eighth grade.