May 30, 2008

Unified's fifth-graders show improvement over past three years

More students at Unified's elementary schools are passing reading tests, according to a RacinePost analysis.

Using data supplied by Unified, RacinePost tracked the progress of reading scores for students who were third-graders in 2005. Over three years, 18 of Unified's 21 schools increased the percentage of students who passed the state's standardized reading test.

In other words, a third-grader in 2005 was more likely to pass the state's WKCE reading test when they were a fifth-grader in 2007.

Click here to see a spreadsheet of RacinePost's analysis.

Third-graders in 2005 at Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary showed the greatest improvement in the district. The class saw its number of students passing the state test jump from 59 percent in 2005 to 88 percent in 2007.

Janes Elementary's 2005 class of third-graders increased its test scores from 43 percent in 2005 to 68 percent in 2007.

Red Apple, Roosevelt and West Ridge also saw a double-digit increase in the number of third-graders in 2005 who passed the reading test as fifth-graders in 2007.

Following a class of students through a school helps isolate reading programs at the school. For example, the improvements at Jerstad and Janes suggest that the school is doing something right to increase the number of students passing the state's WKCE reading test.

At the same time, it could isolate problems. Eighteen percent fewer third-graders in 2005 at Goodland and Mitchell elementaries passed the reading test as fifth-graders in 2007.

Positive or negative increases in school performance may be attributed to outside factors, such as shifts in student enrollment. If more students who are good at reading shift from one school to another, then it could sway the tests.

But if Unified is looking for teachers who seem to be reaching students and helping them excel at reading, the district may want to start looking at the schools that are showing improvement.

Conversely, school's with precipitous drop offs in test scores probably need to be studied and, possibly, reconfigured.

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