Delaware’s 2013-14 State Assessment Results

July 22nd, 2014

Category: News, Policy and Practice, Postsecondary Success

This year’s results for the Delaware state-wide assessment, Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) were released late last week, providing Delaware with a snapshot progress report of student achievement, and where Delaware stands on the path toward greatness.

The preliminary results, presented at Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting, show that that as a state, Delaware has successfully raised the bar for achievement, and has maintained higher proficiency standards over the last several years. In the 2010-11 school year, Delaware formally transitioned from the DSTP (Delaware State Testing Program) to a tougher, more rigorous state assessment, the DCAS. As Delaware raised the bar of expectations for students and schools, proficiency dipped from 7 out of 10 students proficient in math and reading under DSTP to 6 out of 10 students proficient under the DCAS. However, over the past four years, Delaware students and schools have risen to the challenge of higher proficiency standards.

Since the adoption of DCAS, average student proficiency has increased to levels comparable to proficiency levels under DSTP, with one big difference—students are meeting higher proficiency standards. Average proficiency has increased from 62% in reading and 61% in math in 2011, to 72% proficiency in reading and 69% proficiency in math in 2014. Average student advanced proficiency has also increased, from 35% in reading, and 23% in math in 2011, to 43% in reading and 27% in math.

  •  This year, 72% of students attained proficiency or advanced proficiency in reading, and 69% of students attained proficiency or advanced proficiency in math. This represents overall achievement consistent with last year, when 72% of students were proficient in reading and 70% of students were proficient in math.
  • This year, 43% of students attained advanced proficiency in reading, and 27% of students attained advanced proficiency in math. This represents a level of advanced achievement consistent with last year, when 43% of students attained advanced proficiency in reading, and 28% of students attained advanced proficiency in math.

Note: DCAS results should be interpreted with caution as a change of 2 percentage points or less is considered within the margin of error and is not considered significant.

Diving deeper into this year’s results, we find that while the state average has remained consistent, there are variations in performance among individual schools and districts. As noted by the Delaware Department of Education, some schools have managed to not only maintain gains, but to also continuously improve, while others have seen drops in performance. Additional analysis at the state, district, and school levels will be critical to identify the factors that contributed to the persistent improvement of schools, and subsequently scaling these best practices throughout the state. We also expect to hear more regarding DCAS achievement gaps, which saw little to no improvement, at the next State Board of Education meeting.

Looking to the future, the most meaningful performance indicators may be the percentages of students performing at the highest level of DCAS achievement, attaining advanced proficiency. Student achievement at the level of advanced proficiency is an important indicator of college and career readiness for 10th graders, as it correlates with SAT performance. It may also provide us with an rough indicator (though not exact) of the student achievement levels we may see next year as we once again raise the bar of expectations, and students take the new, tougher assessment aligned to Common Core State Standards. So while we have made significant strides forward as a state, there is more work to be done.

The path ahead for Delaware will be challenging, particularly as we strive to move our education system from “good” to “great.” As the past decade has demonstrated, raising both the bar on our expectations for schools and the achievement levels of our students has taken a lot of hard work and perseverance. However, attaining greatness—becoming an internationally recognized top performing education system that ensures ALL students maximize their potential—will require digging in and tackling tough system level issues that create conditions that make it difficult for us to ensure that all students are maximizing their potential. For example, the equitable distribution of funding and resources to meet the needs of each student. To resolve these issues, we need to work collectively, vision boldly, innovate, and develop a unique plan for action that fits our state.

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Liz Hoyt



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