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Test scores: Understanding the acronyms

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news Bemidji, 56619
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We're not all statisticians. So, when it comes to understanding state test scores and what they mean for a local school district, sometimes figuring them out is a matter of going back to the basics.

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The Minnesota Department of Education measures schools and districts each year in four areas - student participation in standardized testing, test scores, attendance and graduation rates. The end result of all this testing is Adequate Yearly Progress, an overall measure that is reported to the general public.

In order to get a better grasp on Minnesota's system of accountability, one first has to understand what the acronyms and groupings mean. The following are a few terms parents should know:

Students measured

AYP measures student growth within the following groups: all students; American Indian/Alaskan Native students; Asian/Pacific Islander students; Hispanic students; black students not of Hispanic origin; white students not of Hispanic origin; limited English proficient students; special education students and students eligible for free or reduced price meals.

NCLB

No Child Left Behind is a federal act ensuring accountability for schools designated as Title 1 and Title III. It holds districts accountable for the learning of all children.

MCA-II

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment - Series II. Beginning in 2006, a census test has been given annually to students in grades 3-8 and 10 for reading and grades 3-8 and 11 for math.

GRAD tests

The Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma, or GRAD, is a test required to graduate from high school. Students take GRAD tests in grades 9 (writing), 10 (reading) and 11 (math). In grades 10 and 11, the GRAD test and the MCA-II test are really the same test, but not everything that's counted for MCA-II is counted for GRAD.

AYP

Annual Yearly Progress is a set of measurements of schools and districts to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind act. Overall AYP status for a school or district is determined based on math scores, reading scores, graduation rates and attendance rates. All are used to determine the AYP status. A school or district is identified as either "making AYP" or "not making AYP" based on the AYP components.

AYP index point

The index target is based on an assumption that in 2014 all students will be 100 percent proficient in reading, math and testing participation. Students fully proficient earn 1 index point. Students who are partially proficient earn half a point. Every year the index target is set higher. In order to calculate the index target, all the points are added and divided by the number of students who took the test.

Safe Harbor

An alternate target used in the proficiency measurement based on results from previous years. Districts that didn't meet their AYP target, but improved students proficiency percentages by 10 percent from the previous year, can make Safe Harbor.

Y awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

We're not all statisticians. So, when it comes to understanding state test scores and what they mean for a local school district, sometimes figuring them out is a matter of going back to the basics.

The Minnesota Department of Education measures schools and districts each year in four areas - student participation in standardized testing, test scores, attendance and graduation rates. The end result of all this testing is Adequate Yearly Progress, an overall measure that is reported to the general public.

In order to get a better grasp on Minnesota's system of accountability, one first has to understand what the acronyms and groupings mean. The following are a few terms parents should know:

Students measured

AYP measures student growth within the following groups: all students; American Indian/Alaskan Native students; Asian/Pacific Islander students; Hispanic students; black students not of Hispanic origin; white students not of Hispanic origin; limited English proficient students; special education students and students eligible for free or reduced price meals.

NCLB

No Child Left Behind is a federal act ensuring accountability for schools designated as Title 1 and Title III. It holds districts accountable for the learning of all children.

MCA-II

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment - Series II. Beginning in 2006, a census test has been given annually to students in grades 3-8 and 10 for reading and grades 3-8 and 11 for math.

GRAD tests

The Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma, or GRAD, is a test required to graduate from high school. Students take GRAD tests in grades 9 (writing), 10 (reading) and 11 (math). In grades 10 and 11, the GRAD test and the MCA-II test are really the same test, but not everything that's counted for MCA-II is counted for GRAD.

AYP

Annual Yearly Progress is a set of measurements of schools and districts to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind act. Overall AYP status for a school or district is determined based on math scores, reading scores, graduation rates and attendance rates. All are used to determine the AYP status. A school or district is identified as either "making AYP" or "not making AYP" based on the AYP components.

AYP index point

The index target is based on an assumption that in 2014 all students will be 100 percent proficient in reading, math and testing participation. Students fully proficient earn 1 index point. Students who are partially proficient earn half a point. Every year the index target is set higher. In order to calculate the index target, all the points are added and divided by the number of students who took the test.

Safe Harbor

An alternate target used in the proficiency measurement based on results from previous years. Districts that didn't meet their AYP target, but improved students proficiency percentages by 10 percent from the previous year, can make Safe Harbor.

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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