CHARLESTON, W.VA. – West Virginia students scored higher on this year’s West Virginia General Summative Assessment than on the 2015 test in both math and English language arts (ELA), according to preliminary assessment results released today by State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano.
Preliminary results released today at the State Board of Education meeting show approximately 1 in 2 students is proficient in ELA and 1 in 3 students is proficient in math. The state’s overall proficiency in ELA increased 2 percentage points, from 45 to 47 percent and students’ overall math proficiency increased 3 percentage points, from 27 to 30 percent.
“I am proud of the progress our students have made,” Martirano said. “While I know there is still work to do, I am confident we are moving in the right direction.”
When comparing this year’s results to 2015 results, the percentage of students proficient in math increased at every grade level. In ELA, the state saw proficiency increases in all grade levels, except at grade 5 where the percentage proficient remained the same at 51 percent.
Martirano said scores in grades 3 and 4 should be emphasized because those students have been taught based on the new academic standards for their entire elementary career.
“More rigorous academic standards have been in place for our third and fourth grade students since they attended kindergarten,” Martirano said. “Their performance on this assessment demonstrates the effectiveness of our state education standards which resulted in higher proficiency scores.”
Students in grades 4, 6 and 10 were administered a science test and the state saw an overall drop of 1 percentage point, from 37 to 36 percent when compared to 2015 results.
“Although we have seen improvement across the board, I am not satisfied with the current levels of proficiency,” Martirano said. “I am proud of the growth since last year, but remain committed to increasing student achievement, particularly in the areas of math and science.”
Martirano also expressed concern about the decline in performance as grade levels increase and the correlation to the time students’ spent on the test.
“We know time on task matters and students who spend more time on the test perform better,” he said.
Data show that students in elementary school spent more time on the test than students in middle school and high school. Across all grade levels in both ELA and math, the average testing time for students who scored a level 3 or 4, was higher than students who scored a level 1 or 2.
For example, West Virginia third graders spent about 337 minutes on both ELA and math compared to the estimated time of 360 minutes. In grade 11, students spent only 196 minutes on the test versus the estimated time of 450 minutes.
“There is a direct correlation between the effort students put toward taking the test and their scores,” Martirano said. “I challenge our students, especially in high school, to put forth the effort needed to do their best. I am very disappointed by the time our high school students spent taking the test. Every student can make the decision to show up and work hard regardless of their background.”
This year, the state made several adjustments to the test administration. One of those adjustments was to limit each district to a 25-day testing window, and to require districts to schedule testing as close to the end of the school year as possible.
“Each district determined its own district and school testing windows within the limits of 25 days for testing and five additional days for makeup testing,” said Dr. Vaughn G. Rhudy, executive director of the Office of Assessment. “Each district’s window had to be based on the district’s last day of instruction. Some districts, especially those with one-to-one devices, did not require the entire 30 days to complete testing.”
Rhudy emphasized that just because districts could schedule testing within a 25-day window did not mean every student was testing for 25 days. In fact, the average testing time for students varied across grade levels from a low of three hours and 16 minutes in grade 11 where students only had to take the ELA and math tests to a high of six hours and 42 minutes in grade 4 where students had to take ELA, math and science.
“Of course, depending on how schools set their testing schedule, students were not testing for six hours straight,” Rhudy said. “Their test sessions might have been spread over three to five days, and students were only testing for a portion of that day.”
Another adjustment to the 2016 test administration was to remove the classroom activity which was required in 2015 for ELA and math.
“Removing the classroom activity reduced testing administration time by as much as 30 minutes each in ELA and math and relieved school testing coordinators of some administrative responsibilities,” Rhudy explained.
While summarizing the 2016 results, State Board of Education President Mike Green emphasized the importance of remaining consistent.
“I am confident we are doing the right thing for our students,” he said. “It is important to maintain the stability in our school system in terms of our standards, assessment and accountability system so we can compare performance over time. We are making the necessary shifts needed to improve student achievement and ensure our students are prepared to compete in a global society.”
Results are considered preliminary because they do not include approximately 2,500 students who took the West Virginia Alternate Assessment and all data have not yet been certified. Final assessment results will be made available this fall and will include scores for the alternate assessment.
For additional information, contact Kristin Anderson at the WVDE Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.