Student scores improve in math and reading | NevadaAppeal.com

Student scores improve in math and reading

by Heather Swanson
For the Nevada Appeal

State testing shows Carson City schools are on an upward trend in reading and math, while science scores lag behind.

This year’s Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRT) showed reading and math have improved in the district, according to Mike Watty, director of education services for the school district. While test results bode well, whether the school has made adequate yearly progress will not be known until August, when those results are released. That assessment is based on standards set by No Child Left Behind.

The CRT tests students in third through eighth grades in math, English and science.

“In general, we showed improvement overall in both reading and math,” said Watty. “There are pockets where there’s humongous growth.”

Superintendent Mary Piercyznski agreed, saying “We saw a big improvement this year in our scores. Our kids did a lot better.”

Continued improvement, says Watty, is “a matter now of just continuing with the professional development we’re doing for teachers,” as well as “remediation opportunities for students.”

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State grants allowed the schools to hire math and literacy coaches, Watty says, but funding for those initiatives recently expired. New funds are now available for the next two years, he said, but the school is still waiting on the results of an application for those funds. An answer should come in shortly, says Watty.

“If we don’t get them, it will be more of a challenge,” he admitted.

But while the state’s emphasis on reading and math has helped the district improve, science has lagged behind. Science was not among the subjects tested for proficiency, he said.

But that’s about to change.

“There’s going to be more of an emphasis on science” both district- and statewide, Watty said. The state will begin testing sophomores next year for proficiency in the subject.

“Science is (now) required as a proficiency for graduation,” he said, “and it hasn’t been in the past.” The high school focus on science will trickle down to middle and elementary schools, he says.

Another challenge the school will face next year, Watty said, is high turnover amongst administration and veteran teachers due to retirement.

“(It) always is a challenge to get everybody up to speed, but I think we’re in good shape,” he said. “We’ve got everybody hired, and we’re moving forward.”

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