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Statewide student test scores up, proficiency still a problem

Delaware Public Media

Delaware student test scores are up slightly across nearly every grade level in both English and math, but the number of those proficient in each subject continues to concern state officials.

Students in grades 3-8 were 55 percent proficient in English and 44 percent proficient in math this past school year, according to new figures from the state education department.  

Those scores are up from 52 percent and 41 percent a year ago, but younger and more affluent kids buoy much of the average on these Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Michael Watson, chief academic officer with DOE, says the state needs to keep pushing students, but notes these near across-the-board improvements show a lot of promise.

“Our entire system got better and our kids are more proficient than they were last year. More of our kids are on track to be college and career ready and we fully expect that to continue in future years,” Watson said.

Western Sussex County districts, like Laurel, Seaford and Woodbridge made significant improvements over the previous school year in both English and math.

  • Average scores in Laurel jumped from 31 to 39 in English and from 21 to 30 in math
  • Seaford gained 11 points in English to 49 and another 11 points in math for an average score of 39
  • Woodbridge saw the most gains in English and math. Students scored 13 points higher in both subjects and was the only Western Sussex district to reach proficiency in math.

This is also the first year the state used the SAT in place of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for 11th graders, with proficiency on the low end as well.

53 percent scored proficient or better in English, while just 31 percent met that benchmark for math.

“None of us are satisfied with where we are as a system, but Delaware is on the right trajectory, the right path and we are going to continue to move,” Watson said.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, pegs scores of 480 for English and 530 for math out of a possible 800 as "college or career ready," meaning a student has a 75 percent chance of getting at least a C in a first-semester college course related to the subject.

The State Board of Education will hear recommendations about setting proficiency breakdowns for the SAT this afternoon with a vote expected next month.

Parents will get a detailed snapshot of their child’s performance in the coming weeks with recommendations on how to prepare them for the upcoming year.

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