The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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June 20, 2014

Mixed results in student achievement scores in the Camanche School District

CAMANCHE — Recent student achievement scores, presented at Monday's Camanche School Board meeting, show a mix of results.

"Certainly these numbers have their place, but I think it's important to keep them in the proper perspective," Superintendent Tom Parker said.

The middle school saw a great deal of improvement in its fifth-grade cohort group, with the group moving from a 67 percent proficiency score in reading in fourth grade to 80 percent in fifth grade. Math similarly increased from 69 percent to 80 percent and science scores went from 80 percent to 92 percent. Middle School Principal Justin Shaffer said this steady improvement is unusual.

"Usually something goes up and something goes down. We didn't have that," Shaffer said.

In the sixth grade cohort group, though, scores went down in several of the categories. Shaffer said this a common slump and attributed much of it to the move toward Common Core assessments, versus the current teaching curriculum format.

"What we're teaching in sixth grade is not aligned with what they are being assessed on," Shaffer said.

High School Principal Charles Wiebenga saw a 2 percent increase in the percentage of 11th grade students proficient in reading, rating a 64.1 percent in 2013 and 66.2 percent in 2014. However, the total math proficiency score dropped from 70.5 percent to 66.2 percent.

"This is the lowest rate that we have scored in math," Wiebenga said. "Our math scores are dropping, all the way across the board they are dropping."

He attributed some of this to the large amount of Individualized Education Program students. He explained that these students' ability levels do not allow them to do certain math problems, but the assessment tests the student on these problems anyway.

"The test scores are a snapshot of what went on for the day of the test," Parker said.

Parker told the school board that as the district moves forward to trying to increase student achievement, they need to look at both the quantitative data and the qualitative data. Qualitative data focuses not just on the numbers, but also the story behind those numbers.

"The numbers are the numbers and we accept the numbers," Parker said. "But a key part of the analysis is the qualitative data."

He added that currently the district is seeing a transition period with the move toward Common Core.

Samantha Pidde can be contacted at

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