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WMRSD elementary school NECAP scores disappointing

February 24, 2010
WHITEFIELD — The Whitefield School had the lowest reading scores in the third, fifth, sixth, and eighth grades and the lowest math scores in the third, fifth, and eighth grades in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) among 11 schools in the Connecticut River Valley from Monroe to Stratford. Groveton's eighth-grade reading score was tied with Whitefield's, as was Stratford's fifth-grade math score.

The Jefferson School had the lowest reading scores in the third grades, also tied with Whitefield, and fourth grades, and the lowest math score at the fourth grade level.

"I want to state up front that we are disappointed with this year's NECAP — New England Common Assessment Program — results," said SAU #36 Interim Superintendent Dr. Harry Fensom, who came on board in late December well after the tests were taken at District elementary schools, said in an e-mail exchange, "I offer no excuses nor, unfortunately, am I able to offer any definitive causes or solutions at this time. In my experience NECAP results are a function of a well-articulated curriculum that is closely aligned with the New Hampshire grade level expectations (GLEs), a valid system of continuous monitoring of student progress, and a strong program of instruction and intervention. We are in the process of analyzing our data — both NECAP and NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) scores — for insights as to possible breakdowns in these three critical areas."

The Lancaster School, however, had neither any of the highest or the lowest scores. Declared a School In Need of Improvement (SINI) last year, math tutors were employed to assist some students, and specialists came in on staff development days to hold all-school workshops design to boost teachers' competencies in specific areas.

"Lancaster did have an improvement plan in the area of math last year based on the 2007-08 test results," Dr. Fensom reported. "The results from 2007-2008 to 2009-2010 are a mixed bag," he pointed out. "The overall percent of students who tested as 'proficient' rose from 57percent to 60 percent.

"On a grade-to-grade comparison, however, some increased, and some decreased. On a cohort-to-cohort comparison — that is, for example, 2007-2008 third grade to 2009-2010 fifth grade — the same occurred.

"I would say, guardedly, that our efforts at the Lancaster School have had some positive effects but will need to be carefully reviewed, based on an analysis of this year's results," Dr. Fensom said, His caution illustrates both how seriously administrators regard the NECAP scores and how careful educators are in reaching any conclusions before a thorough analysis has been conducted.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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