Grand Canyon students excelled on the Stanford-9 Achievement Tests again this year, the 2000 results released last week show.
In language, local students equalled or surpassed the state averages in nine of the 10 grades that take the test. Grand Canyon exceeded the state average in eight of the 10 grades for reading and passed the state average in seven of the 10 grades for math.
“Arizona’s efforts to use high standards and dual tests are working for all of our students,” state superintendent of schools Lisa Graham Keegan said. “Find a teacher to thank today.”
Keegan said that for the third consecutive year, students made statistically significant increases in achievement for all subjects tested.
The scores released were from this spring’s administration of the tests, which are given annually to all students in grades two through 11. This year, approximately 650,000 students took the test statewide.
At Grand Canyon, third-graders finished above the state averages in all three categories. Keegan said that statewide, the class with the greatest gain over the past four years was the third grade.
“These students started school with the new standards, and we are delighted to see their great progress,” Keegan said.
She also drew attention to the academic progress of minority students, which has outpaced that of other students over the past four years.
“The persistent and shameful differences in achievement that exist between different races of students must end,” Keegan said. “To do so will mean a number of years when these students outpace the growth of other students. We can see that happening over the past four years, and I want to congratulate all teachers whose high expectations and classroom skills are bringing this about.”
Several other Grand Canyon classes had high scores. Specifically, the sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade and 11th grade came up with high percentile rankings.
In reading, the highest score came in from the seventh grade, which had a 71 percentile ranking. In math, the 11th grade had an impressive 81 percentile ranking. And in language, the seventh grade came in with a 70 percentile ranking.
Keegan cautioned parents that although progress is good, there’s still a long way to go.
“Keep in mind that although our 10th-graders finally made it into the 50th percentile nationally, that only means they answered one-third of the questions correctly,” Keegan said. “We should celebrate this great progress, but we cannot shift our focus.”
For particular classes at Grand Canyon, there were improvements seen by four classes in reading, six classes in math and four classes in language.
The biggest improvement came in language for the Class of 2005. Students in this class (this past year’s seventh-graders) improved from a 53 percentile ranking when they were sixth-graders to a 70 percentile ranking this past spring.
“This is the time to confirm our resolve for improvement,” Keegan said. “Arizona has a set of tests in place that allow us to see the performance of children every year and to measure them against our standards. That is an investment well worth making.”
Keegan said the testing process is necessary to measure success.
“While some say that testing detracts from instruction, we actually know that successful schools rely heavily on testing to gauge the academic growth of their students,” Keegan said.
“When is the last time you asked your doctor to quit with the X-rays and blood tests and just get to the treatment?” she added. “A doctor cannot know how to help a patient without diagnosis and testing, just as a teacher cannot help a child without doing the same.”
Keegan suggested that parents look carefully at their child’s test scores and make certain they reflect the child’s grades.
“If your student is bringing home As but scoring below the 50th percentile on any portion of this test, get to the school this fall and ask why,” Keegan advises.
Among surrounding area schools, Ash Fork finished below the state average in all but one category. The lone area where Ash Fork finished ahead of the state average was for the fourth-graders in math (56 percentile ranking compared to 55 state average).
Seligman students did well in some areas of the test but did finish below the state average in math in the majority of the grades. In reading, Seligman finished ahead of the state average 60 percent of the time but in language, beat the state scores 40 percent of the time.
Maine School in Parks, which includes only elementary-school level students, finished ahead of the state averages in the majority of categories for reading and language. Parks students were below the state average in math in three of its five grades that take the test.
Williams students equaled or surpassed the state average in reading in half of its grades. The school district beat state scores in math 40 percent of the time with two of those top math performances coming from high-school classes.
In language, Williams equalled or beat state scores only 30 percent of the time. Those three classes were the second, sixth and seventh grades.
Overall, Keegan feels Arizona students did well and she offered encouraging words from the test results.
“I want to congratulate our students, our teachers and our schools on this steady progress in achievement,” Keegan said.