Delavan-Darien schools see positive gains in state test scores

DELAVAN — The Delavan-Darien School District has seen sweeping improvements in its Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination testing scores in nearly all subject and grade areas this school year.

Out of a possible 23 tests over seven grades, the district saw improvements in its advanced plus proficient-level scores on 20 tests.

“Considering the daily challenges we face in our school community, including a high percentage of English language learners and a higher-than-average poverty rate, these improving scores are very satisfying,” Superintendent Wendy Overturf said. “We are closing the gap between our neighboring school districts and the state. We are making gains and we are getting better in virtually all areas. I’m very proud we can say that and very proud we can prove that with these test scores.”

The results, released Wednesday by the state Department of Instruction, also showed that Delavan-Darien High School’s WKCE test results were all above state averages.

“As exciting as these results are, we will continue to move forward,” DDHS Principal Mark Schmitt said.

DDHS has plans to expand its efforts to improve student learning with a number of initiatives, Schmitt said. These include a revamped curriculum that will provide students with learning that engages them in problems and issues of the 21st century. The school will also implement new teaching strategies that will more fully engage students. These strategies will be the focus of staff development for all teachers, Schmitt added.

The high school tests, taken by sophomores, cover the subject areas of reading, language arts, math, science and social studies.

The scores sophomores achieved were the highest at the high school since at least 1997, the first year data from the state DPI is available.

Compared to last school year, each test category saw gains of at least 8 percentage points, with math scores improving nearly 20 percent. Reading scores were up 11.4 percent, language arts and science were both up 13.7 percent and social studies scores were up 8.7 percent.

Schmitt attributes the gains to a team effort of students, parents, teachers and staff working together.

“Students really took the test seriously and gave it their best effort,” Schmitt said, noting a handful of things that were done to emphasize the importance of the tests.

Teachers prepared students prior to the test with a standards-based curriculum as well as test-taking strategies. Parents also encouraged students to get enough rest and come to school prepared to take the test.

A series of incentives for students encouraged their best effort, and district leadership made it clear that this all schools needed to be fully invested in the WKCE test efforts.

Even on the morning of the test, Phoenix Middle School Principal Tad Wehner came and met with sophomores during breakfast and encouraged students to give it their very best effort.

“All of these efforts came together and made a difference,” Schmitt said.

The district’s WKCE test scores were also up throughout third through eighth grades.

Fourth and eighth graders took all five subject tests, and gains were made over last year in each subject category in both grades.

The fourth grade math and social studies tests showed the highest scores in the last 12 years of available data. The fourth grade social studies test results also bested state averages.

Eighth graders posted the highest score in reading in the last 12 years. Also, the eighth grade language arts scores went up 14.4 percent since last year. That improvement percentage actually tops the total scores of 1997, when only 13 percent of eighth graders in the district scored at proficient or advanced levels.

Students in third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades took WKCE tests in reading and math. Compared to last year’s scores, improvements were seen in five of the eight tests. In the three tests where gains weren’t achieved, the declines were slight when compared to last year results

“We’d obviously like to see increasing scores in all areas, but we’re still very happy with these results,” Overturf said. “I am very proud of our students and our dedicated staff for continuing to work hard, use effective teaching practices and show that we can all learn and we can all improve.

“Having said that, we still have a lot of work to do. We are striving to have all students and all test scores be above state averages. I’m confident that day will come as we adjust our curriculum and teaching methods to meet the needs of all students.”

Overturf credits the sweeping gains throughout the district to an increased focus on training and researched-based practices, and an increased emphasis on formative assessments.

“I believe this reflects the work we’ve done over the past few years in our schools,” Overturf said. “I feel that the changes we’ve made, and the changes we’re considering throughout the district will continue to have a positive impact on all of our students.” We’re on the right track in getting to where we need to be, and we’re hopeful we will enjoy these kinds of achievement gains again in the years ahead.”

WKCE Results: Percentage Advanced + Proficient At Delavan-Darien

Grade 10 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 78.8 67.4 +11.4 75.5 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 2002 was 54%

Language Arts 73.5 59.8 +13.7 67.4 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 1997 was 33%

Math 74.1 54.3 +19.8 69.1 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 1997 was 24%

Science 76.7 63.0 +13.7 70.6 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 1997 was 42%

Social Studies 79.4 70.7 +8.7 73.9 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 2002 was 52%

(*Data available since 1997. See editor’s note)

Grade 8 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 80.4 71.1 +9.3 83.1 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 1997 was 62%

Language Arts 55.2 40.8 +14.4 63.7 • Highest score since 2007 (59.9)

• Score in 1997 was 13%

Math 61.3 58.5 +2.8 77.1 • Highest score since 2007 (68.0)

• Score in 1997 was 21%

Science 72.4 62.7 +9.7 79.0 • Third-highest score since 2002 (74)

• Score in 1997 was 51%

Social Studies 79.8 70.4 +9.4 80.0 • Highest score since 2007 (83.7)

• Score in 1997 was 67%

(*Data available since 1997. See editor’s note)

Grade 7 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 68.5 74.5 -6.0 85.4 • Average since 2005 is 72.7
Math 62.4 63.6 -1.2 80.0 • Average since 2005 is 62.1

• In 2005, score was 49.7

(*Data available since 2005)

Grade 6 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 75.9 67.7 +8.2 83.5 • Average since 2005 is 72.9

• Second-highest since 2005 (80.9)

Math 57.0 59.4 -2.4 77.2 • Average since 2005 is 61.1

• Score range between 2006 and 2009 is 55.2 to 59.4

(*Data available since 2005)

Grade 5 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 65.8 64.3 +1.5 79.3 • Average since 2005 is 66.7

• Score is third-highest since 2005

Math 56.8 56.7 +0.1 77.3 • Average since 2005 is 55.9

• Highest score since 2006 (59.3)

(*Data available since 2005)

Grade 4 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 68.1 67.1 +1.0 80.4 • Highest score since 2004 (72.3)

• Scores improved last four years

Language Arts 71.9 65.8 +6.1 76.3 • Highest score since 2003 (78.9)

• Scores improved last three years

Math 72.6 61.7 +10.9 79.5 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Score in 1997 was 45%

• Scores improved last three years

Science 70.4 63.1 +7.3 76.0 • Highest score since 2003 (84.3)

• Scores improved last three years

Social Studies 92.6 88.6 +4.0 91.6 • Highest score in last 12 years*

• Scores improved last three years

• Score in 1997 was 55%

(*Data available since 1997. See editor’s note)

Grade 3 Nov. 2009 Nov. 2008 +/- State average Summary
Reading 64.3 63.6 +0.7 78.3 • Second-highest score since 2005*

• Average since 2005 is 64.1

Math 61.4 53.6 +7.8 75.4 • Highest core since 2005*

• Average since 2005 is 57.7

(*Data available since 2005)

(Editor’s Note: Information used can be found by searching for the Delavan-Darien School District at: http://dpi.wi.gov/sig/index.html. The WKCE tests taken between 1997 and early 2002 were different than tests taken in late 2002 to present, as noted on the DPI data site. However, current scores and 1997 scores in the above table summaries still show the percentage of students who tested at proficient or advanced levels on formative tests for both years.)

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