Des Moines Students Improve on ITBS/ITED Tests; Proficiency On the Rise, Achievement Gap On the Decline
The percentage of Des Moines students who are proficient in reading and math has been on a steady increase in most areas over the past five years, according to preliminary results of ITBS and ITED tests from the 2010-11 school year. Dr. Nancy Sebring, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, presented the data to a meeting of the Des Moines School Board.
“There are many encouraging signs in the results we are seeing to indicate improvements in the quality education our students receive in Des Moines,” said Dr. Sebring. “While we have seen changes ranging from more students living in poverty to regular state budget cuts, we are adapting to meet our promise to prepare every student for their future.”
The ITBS or ITED exams are administered to 4th, 8th and 11th grade students to measure proficiency, which is defined by federal education rules as a national percentile rank of 41 or above. Some highlights from the ITBS and ITED results include:
4th grade reading
- Proficiency for African American, Latino and White students increased by 11.7%, 7.7%, and 5.9%, respectively, since last year, reaching the highest levels in the past 10 years.
- Proficiency among free/reduced priced lunch students increased by more than 6.6% since last year, also reaching the highest level of the past 10 years. The percent of 4th grade children eligible for free/reduced priced lunch increased from 48.6% to 70.8% during the same period of time.
- ELL students saw proficiency improvements of 9.4% over the past year, also reaching the highest level in the past 10 years.
- 4th grade students in 2010-11 demonstrated growth of 1.5 grade equivalents in reading comprehension from the 2009-10 school year when they were 3rd grade students. The National Grade Equivalent score for DMPS 4th graders was 5.3.
4th grade mathematics
- The proficiency of African American, White and Latino students increased by 10%, 1.2% and 5.5% respectively, and are higher than they were 10 years ago.
- Every student subgroup increased over the past year with the exception of Asians, which declined 0.3%.
- In the past year, the achievement gap for African American and Latino students was reduced by 8.8% and 4.3%, respectively.
- 4th grade students in 2010-11 demonstrated growth of 1.4 grade equivalents in reading comprehension from the 2009-10 school year when they were 3rd grade students. The National Grade Equivalent score for DMPS 4th graders was 5.3.
8th grade reading
- Proficiency for all but two student subgroups is higher today than it was 5 years ago.
- The achievement gap between White and Latino closed by 8% during the past five years.
8th grade mathematics
- Proficiency for Latino students has shown a consistent upward trend, increasing 8% in the past five years.
- The achievement gap between White and Latino students went from 32.6% in 2001-02 to 17.8% in 2010-11.
- All but two student subgroups increased during the past five years.
11th grade cohort
- Every student subgroup increased over the past five years in reading, with the exception of Asian and ELL.
- During that same time, the gap between White and Latino students was reduced by 7.8%.
- In reading, there was a general upward trend in proficiency as these students moved from grade 9 in 2009 to grade 11 in 2011. The percent proficient for grade 9, 10 and 11 were 51%, 57% and 65%, respectively.
Dr. Sebring outlined several factors that have contributed to increases in proficiency, including:
- Professional development for teachers.
- Shifting focus from remediation to prevention.
- Aligning curriculum across the spectrum.
- Aligning curriculum to Iowa Core and Common Core.
- Extending learning opportunities after school.
- Expanding early childhood education.
- Implementing multiple drop-out prevention programs.
- Expanding International Baccalaureate to all grade levels.
- Becoming more strategic during period of budget cuts.
“While there are some positive signs in this data, these results also bring focus to our efforts so we can support improvements and success for all students,” added Dr. Sebring. “One example is doing more to increase student attendance. Those students who are in school 90% of the time or more consistently show greater proficiency than students who attend school less often or who attend more than one school during a single academic year. That’s a great compliment to our teachers and their ability to teach students in their classrooms. We simply need to make sure that every student – along with their parents and guardians – understands the importance of simply showing up if they are going to succeed in school and beyond.”