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Front Page » August 22, 2006 » Local News » Overall student proficiency level climbs in Carbon School...
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Overall student proficiency level climbs in Carbon School District


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The overall level of student proficiency in Carbon School District went up last year compared to 2005 scores.

According to data released by superintendent David Armstrong during a Carbon County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 9, 79 percent of the students in the district were proficient at language arts, 73 percent were proficient at math and 64 percent were proficient at science when evaluated during the last school year by core exams.

The latest levels compare to 2005 when language scored at 77 percent, math at 71 percent and science at 61 percent.

"This shows improvement across the board," noted Armstrong. "But there are some things we certainly need to continue to work on."

The statistics showed that the best scores came in for sixth grade language arts, with an 87 percent proficiency level. The lowest level for language arts was in the 10th grade, with 71 percent proficiency.

In math, the highest levels were scored by the district's fourth grade students, who registered in the 85 percentile on the tests.

Geometry came in as a subject with the lowest math proficiency with 53 percent.

However, the overall proficiency score was even lower because of applied math one, which is taught to special education students. The special education proficiency level was basically zero in that subject.

In science, the top scoring group was the fourth grade students, who registered a 78 percent proficiency level in the subject.

Physics as a subject had the least percentage with 30.

Board members raised several questions at the meeting, despite the overall improvement.

"I am concerned about science being consistently low," said board member Grady McEvoy. "What is going on there?"

The superintendent pointed out that the lowest scores in science proficiency came after the elementary grade.

"We should have science as a full year class in seventh grade" to prepare students for what they will be learning during the next five years in junior high and high school, said Armstrong.

"That would help them to have a better basic understand ing as they moved on," added the superintendent.

The scores for science were low last year for all students attending classes higher than the seventh grade.

Seventh graders registered a 49 percent proficiency level, while eighth graders scored 65 percent. Ninth grade earth science students placed at the 62 percent proficiency level.

Board member Debbie Blackburn pointed out that physics, as a program, was very low and she wondered why.

"That boiled down to the fact that the person teaching physics last year had a lot of tragedy in the family between an illness and a death," explained Armstrong.

During the discussion, Armstrong pointed out that the district recently received a math grant that will affect grades four through six. The grant program will help strengthen math skills in the students in the grade levels in question.

The grants were available to all 40 Utah school districts and the total money earmarked for the program statewide was $7 million during a three-year period.

Carbon School District was able to secure $880,000 of the statewide grant funding for the next three years.

"As you can, see we got a good share of the money for a district our size," pointed out the superintendent. "The money will be used for staff development, incentives to increase proficiency and to maintain the levels of teaching."

The program is similar to the reading grants the district will be working with during the next three years in all elementary schools.

One board of education member asked what "incentives" meant.

Armstrong explained that the incentives mean that, if teachers classes met the objectives, there would be money to pay them more through the program for doing a good job.

The reading and math grants have provided money to hire extra personnel to help with the subjects.

Included in the program are reading and math coaches as well as a place for someone to be an "interventionist" if students are having problems, according to the superintendent.

The person would intervene and provide extra instruction for students who are having a difficult time.

The district's elementary principals are preparing to make reading and math keys to the education programs at the schools during the current year.



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