On May 18, Coordinator of Data, Assessment and Accountability Jeanne Corcoran provided the Board of Education with an overview of the District’s latest Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Report, which was released in February 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the District’s accountability 2019-20 status is based on 2018-19 data–the most recent school year for which complete data is available–and was determined to be “Good Standing.”
New York State Education Department (NYSED) suspended state assessments for Spring 2020 and January 2021, and suspended reviews of district performance for 2019-20. Although abbreviated Spring 2021 state assessments were conducted and just four Regents examinations are to be administered in June 2021, all August 2021 Regents exams are suspended and it is anticipated that reviews of district performance for 2020-2021 will also be suspended. Students who complete any course typically ending in a Regents exam during the 2020-21 school year and Summer 2021 will be granted an exemption for the Regents exam–including the four exams being offered in June.
However, the District has conducted its own assessment based on ESSA measures to identify needs and inform targeted interventions to address learning regression and learning loss. Findings were included in the May 18 Board presentation.
Overall chronic absenteeism has declined district-wide since the 2018-19 school year to date. However, those improvements are not distributed equally across buildings and range from 2.99% of elementary students who are absent 10% or more of days enrolled to 10.10% of high school students. In total, 101 students across grades 9-12 currently meet this criteria–more than double the total number of chronically absent students (45) last year.
“Causes of chronic absenteeism among high school students include working, providing childcare and assisting younger siblings, mental health issues arising from the pandemic, poor sleep hygiene and Zoom fatigue,” explained Corcoran. “These are critical issues that need to be addressed and the team at the high school is doing everything in their power to address these concerns.”
The first step has been to reach out and engage students and then, to move them to in-person learning as quickly as possible and to provide referrals for mental health services as indicated.
The four-year graduation rate has consistently remained at or above 94% since the 2017-18 school year, with nearly all students graduating within six years. Although the 2020-21 graduation rate has not yet been determined, indicators suggest that it will be in line with recent years.
College, Career and Civic Readiness
The College, Career and Civic Readiness (CCCR) measure is based on the type of diploma students earn, along with a few additional metrics. Of the 277 students who graduated in June 2020, 98 earned Regents diplomas, 177 earned Advanced Regents diplomas and two earned Commencement Credentials. In addition, four students were awarded the Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes graduates who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing one or more languages in addition to English. Two of these graduates earned the Seal of Biliteracy for two languages (both, French and Spanish). The CCCR data for 2020-21 appears to be consistent with prior years.
Advanced Placement course enrollment and exam performance data is another CCCR indicator. Course enrollment has remained steady over the past two school years. In Spring 2020, 522 of the 617 enrollments in AP courses took modified exams remotely via a new, online platform at the height of the pandemic. Seventy-eight percent of these exams scored a 3 (28%), 4 (29%) or 5 (21%) and were considered “qualified” to receive college credit.
English Language Proficiency
Students who are new to the District take the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL). In 2019-20, the NYSITELL was administered to 38 students. This year, 26 students took the NYSITELL.
Although the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) was not offered in Spring 2020, it is being administered this year. The Spring 2021 NYSESLAT data will be available for District review in Summer 2021.
The performance categories for both the NYSITELL and the NYSESLAT are the same: Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding and Commanding. Students identified as English Language Learners take the NYSESLAT each spring to measure progress toward English language proficiency.
Academic Achievement, Student Growth & Academic Progress
Given that these measures are primarily derived from New York State assessments and Regents exams, the District based this year’s review on Star Early Literacy (Gr. K-1), Star Reading and Math (Gr. 2-8), Fountas & Pinnell and running records for reading (Gr. K-5), as well as formative, summative and project-based assessments for grades K-12.
Throughout this year, the District has monitored these measures to assess learning regression (loss of previous skills or knowledge) and learning loss (gains occurring at a slower pace than expected). “Teachers continuously measure student progress throughout the year to adjust learning experiences to meet individual student needs. It’s part of the educational process,” Corcoran explained.
Grade K-5 Data Teams met to review these measures, as well as report card data for two trimesters of the 2020-21 school year, and identify grade-level trends. The percentage of students performing “above benchmark” increased slightly in Reading (62.82% to 65.33%) and Math (71% to 78%) between the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 assessments; Spring 2021 data is pending. Fountas & Pinnell levels were studied across the past three years to compare cohort growth from one year to the next as well as general grade level performance from year to year. Corcoran shared that, while the March 2021 levels were not where the teams hoped they would be, they were better than expected given the scope and scale of pandemic-related challenges.
“Student progress at SOMS and TZHS has been monitored through an individualized effort through teachers and counselors. As academic needs are assessed, after school office hours and learning institutes have been offered to support students. However, educational growth is dependent on active and consistent student engagement. Therefore secondary schools, particularly TZHS, are simultaneously addressing attendance and chronic absenteeism to re-engage students who have become disconnected.
Administrators are using these metrics to inform the development of programming to help address learning loss and learning regression and to offer additional academic and social emotional support starting this summer. At the elementary level, data are also being used to prioritize students for literacy intervention.
A list of K-12 summer programming scheduled to date can be found here. Schools will be communicating with families directly regarding the registration process for the programs they host.