January 28, 2010
The results of the Fall 2009 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) for grades three through eight and high school were released today by Commissioner of Education Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D. Commissioner Barry was pleased to note that New Hampshire schools have again made strong progress in helping students meet challenging standards in reading, mathematics, and writing. This is the fifth year that New Hampshire's third through eighth grade students have taken the NECAP and the third year the NECAP test has been administered at the high school level. The results show that our schools are making substantial progress at all grade levels in all three content areas when compared to the first year of each of these tests. The data provides a comprehensive view of performance in mathematics, reading, and writing based on the New Hampshire Grade-Level Expectations. The NH academic standards are embedded in the New Hampshire Curriculum Frameworks for Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. The NECAP results provide the opportunity for districts, schools, and the Department to examine how effective we are in helping students achieve these standards.
Our New Hampshire state focus on Follow the Child continues to be a major theme in using data to examine student outcomes. Commissioner Barry said, "On behalf of the children of NH, I would like to personally extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for all the hard work and thoughtful reflection of teachers. The Department is in the process of creating a framework to transform NH's educational system by addressing four broad areas: Standards and Assessments, Effective Teachers and Leaders, Data Systems, and Turnaround of Struggling Schools. NECAP is a critical tool in assessing the effectiveness of these reforms at both the system level and at the student level."
NECAP is a collaborative partnership among New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine in grades 3-8 established in response to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which requires that all states annually measure achievement of students in grades 3-8, and in one high school grade.
While the Commissioner indicates that she is pleased with the information that the NECAP assessment provides, she offered the reminder that while the NECAP is an important measure of academic progress, it is only one of many ways that schools measure the progress of our students. In evaluating the success of students and schools, it is essential that parents, educators, and community leaders consider multiple forms of assessment, such as: community involvement, attendance, graduation rates, the number of students pursuing further education after high school, school safety issues, discipline records, and other relevant information.
All public NECAP reports for schools, districts, and the state, as well as The Guide to Interpreting the 2009 NECAP Reports can be accessed directly through the NH School District Profile site on the homepage of the NH DOE Web site.
Additional resources, information, and comparative graphs and charts can be found at www.education.nh.gov/instruction/assessment/necap.
How is our state doing over time? In the 2005 NECAP assessment, 65 percent of the students in grades 3-8 demonstrated proficiency in reading and 61 percent of the students demonstrated proficiency in mathematics. The results for this year show that student performance has risen to 77 percent of the students in grades 3-8 proficient in reading and 71 percent proficient in mathematics.
How are our schools doing over time? Preliminary analysis of program trends across the history of NECAP testing (5 years for elementary and middle grades, and 3 years for high school) helps us to see how schools are doing over time. Reading tests at all grades show reading performance increases ranging from 6 to 14 percentage points per grade level in the proportion of students demonstrating proficiency. Likewise in mathematics, all grades have shown increases ranging from 5 to 12 percentage points in the proportion of students who are scoring proficient or better. New Hampshire also tests writing in grades 5, 8, and 11. In writing, there has been a 17 point increase at grade 11. There are no writing scores at grades 5 and 8 since the test was used to pilot new writing items. Writing scores at grades 5 and 8 will be available once again next year. At grade 11, the test consists of a single extended writing prompt and the sample of writing changes each year in order to assess different types of writing (narrative, informational, and persuasive). How are our students doing over time? At grades 3-8, the current results allow us to follow the same group or cohort of students for five years. For example, 77 percent of this year's grade seven students demonstrated proficiency in reading. This same cohort of students has improved from 71 percent proficient in grade three. The same is not true in mathematics. In 2005, 68 percent of third graders were proficient in mathematics. Four years later, as seventh graders, only 66% of the students are proficient in mathematics at the more difficult standards of the higher grade.
Local Trends: Over the next few weeks, schools and districts will be examining their own data and paying particular attention to the growth of individual students and groups of students. Administrators, local school improvement teams, and teachers can also use these results to measure the effectiveness of program changes and instructional strategies they have implemented based on previous results and analyses.
There are four achievement levels of student performance on the NECAP tests. These levels describe a student's proficiency on the content and skills taught in the previous grade. Performance at Proficient (level 3) or Proficient with Distinction (level 4) indicates that the student has a level of proficiency necessary to begin working successfully on current grade content and skills. Performance at Partially Proficient (level 2) or Substantially Below Proficient (level 1) suggests that additional instruction and student practice is needed on the previous grade's content and skills.