As many of you are aware, the International Schools’ Assessment was administered to all students in grades three through nine in October of 2010. ASH has been administering this external, standardized exam that measures students’ abilities in reading, mathematical literacy and writing abilities each year since 2006. Because we have been giving the test for a number of years, we can observe some trends in math, reading and writing. However, due to our transient population, regularly having 15-20% of a class leaving at the end of a school year and being replaced with new students, we must be careful in making sweeping conclusions.
When determining how well ASH students do as a whole, we can compare ourselves against all other schools that have taken the test in each given year and against all other like schools (those schools that have about the same proportion of native English speakers as ASH) that have administered the test each year. Since we give the test toward the beginning of the school year, we use the scores primarily to review the curriculum and instruction from the previous grade level. For example looking at grade three results can help us review and determine any curricular changes that might be needed in grade two programs. To the degree possible given our transient population, we also use the tests to look at the performance of a core cohort of students from year to year (that is, from grades three to four to five).
In terms of our October 2010 reading results, our scores were significantly higher than those of all other schools in every grade level three through nine and even significantly higher than those of other like schools in some cases. In fact, this has been the case each and every year since 2006.
Our grade three and four math scores were significantly higher than those of all other schools with our grades five through seven students scoring on par with all other like schools. Unfortunately, our grade eight and nine students scored significantly lower than all other schools in October 2010. This was a drop from previous years when students were on par with other schools and we are examining why this happened. We will continue reviewing all the scores as we do a thorough curriculum review of our math program during the 2011-12 school year.
Students were also given two writing prompts to demonstrate their ability in narrative and persuasive types of writing. Our students’ narrative writing was significantly higher than that of other like schools in grades six, seven and eight and was on par with those schools in grades three, four and five. The grade five scores did drop during the 2010 administration of the test (compared to previous years) and we will be keeping a close eye on this as we continue to gather more data and information throughout the years.
Our students’ persuasive writing performance has been significantly lower than other like schools on the grade six examination over the past two years. For this reason, the grade five team and I are looking through the results to determine why students are continuing to score below their international schools peers in persuasive writing. We may incorporate more persuasive writing into grade five programs to include such elements as structure and content. Other grade levels were on par with other schools or significantly higher (grades three and nine) than other schools.
Again, it should be made clear that it is difficult to compare from one year to the next as many students enter ASH in August of any given year. However, within the next few weeks I expect to receive more data from ISA that will show only scores from those students who have been at ASH and have sat the exam over the past number of years. This will enable us to more readily and accurately compare our own results from year to year and look for trends that can be more directly related to our teaching of these concepts and skills.
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