CHCCS Meets Many New Testing Standards While Disadvantaged Students Struggle

CHAPEL HILL – With the recent release of the Common Core Standards results, district leaders acknowledge that closing the achievement gap in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is essential in the coming years. As the school system acclimates itself to the new more rigorous method of assessment, it is also tailoring ways to help all students meet proficiency levels.

“We have a history of not doing as well with economically disadvantaged students as we would like,” said Diane Villwock, the district’s Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation. She presented an analysis of the Common Core Standards test results to the CHCCS Board of Education last week.

North Carolina adopted the more demanding Common Core Standards in 2010  because research showed that students were not ready for college coursework or the workplace. The 2012-2013 school year was the first in which the teachers, students, and parents saw them fully implemented in the classroom.

The district met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals; North Carolina’s READY structure of Common Core Standards were met at a rate of 94.6 percent and included 947 goals.

However, 27 performance goals were not met. Twenty of those unmet goals were from the economically disadvantaged student group.

“One of the parts of my report was to analyze who are the students who are in poverty in our district, and that turns out to be all races,” Villwock said. “Latino and black were around 1,000 [students in total] and whites and Asians were around 400.”

Villwock explained that the district defines “economically disadvantaged” as students who receive lunches for free or at a reduced price.

In her presentation to the Board, she explained that many of those students were limited in English proficiency.

“When you have multiple obstacles for learning, that means that the kinds of support need to be more intensive,” Villwock said.

To help economically disadvantaged students meet the Common Core proficiency levels, the Long Range Plan has outlined strategies aimed at closing the achievement gap.

A Central Office instructional services team was also created and charged with evaluating testing data and tracking student progress.

“We are going to get very targeted about support and really use the data to direct us,” Villwock said.

The district has also begun a strategy called “Response to Instruction.”

“We monitor students by giving them interim assessments. If they are not making progress, we assign an intervention. After the intervention has had a few weeks to work, we do some measures to see if that intervention is working,” Villwock said. “If it is not, we might either add another intervention or intensify the one we are doing, or change.”

Response to Instruction is already implemented in the elementary schools, is being introduced in the middle schools, and has planned implementation in the high schools.

Villwock said she and district leaders anticipated the new curriculum would cause an initial shakeup, but that in time, students would adjust to the changes.

She expects all scores to go up in the coming years as teachers also adjust their instructional methods so that students have practice in items the tests are accessing.

“If you are used to teaching one way, you don’t just flip on a dime and teach some way that is quite different.”

Common Core Standards Place New Demands On CHCCS Students

CHAPEL HILL- Thursday’s release of the state Common Core Standard test results shows areas in which Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools need improvement, but officials say that’s due in part to the fundamental nature of the curriculum changes.

“The demands on students are changing. There’s a lot more writing, there’s a lot more deep reading of the text, so it is not this sort of superficial ‘glean a few things and keep moving,’” says Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation, Diane Villwock. She says the new standards require students to adopt a different style of learning to master the material.

“We’re writing in mathematics, we’re writing in science, we’re writing in social studies. People have to have evidence to support their position. It’s a much more rigorous, higher-order thinking skills kind of requirement,” says Vilwock.

She notes that the amount of material covered in the early grades has changed to allow a more in-depth understanding of key concepts.

“From [kindergarten through fourth grade], students are learning basics at a very deep level, so if you’re subtracting, you have to be able to explain why you subtracted, you have to have the numeric understanding behind that, so K-4 is much less content, actually.”

She says once the children reach grades five, six, and seven, the content level increases because they have a foundation on which to build.

North Carolina adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010. The 2012-2013 school year was the first in which the teachers, students, and parents saw them fully implemented in the classroom.

Vilwock says teachers were well prepared for the changes, but nonetheless the district is continuing to work to make sure the transition process is smooth.

“The district has hired a firm out of the University of Pittsburgh called the Institute for Learning and they’ve been working with us last eyar and into this year teaching teachers how to have the instructional methodology that they need.”

The district met the majority of the state and federal proficiency expectations, but economically disadvantaged high school students struggled to meet many of the testing goals.

Officials warn against jumping to conclusions as this is the first year students have been tested using the new standards. Instead, they say this data will form the baseline for comparisons in coming years.

Letter from the Superintendent Regarding Test Results for 2012-13

The State released test results earlier today that may have appeared to be lower than you were anticipating, but please do not be alarmed.  The drop in test proficiency scores throughout North Carolina was expected.  This does not mean that the students have fallen behind.  It simply means the demands of the assessments have changed . . . in fact, they have been raised to a much more demanding level.
I want to assure you that our students did not lose ground in their learning last year.  Students continued to grow academically, however, the tougher achievement standards will show fewer students meeting the proficiency level.  Also, I want to emphasize that in this transition year, these scores will not affect students’ grades or current placement.
Change is never easy, but these new assessments, and the increase in rigor, will be advantageous to our students and will give us a clearer picture of how well they are prepared to enter college and the work force.  We are pleased with the progress of our students and expect continued success in the coming months and years.

Common Core Standard Scores Schedule To Release

CHAPEL HILL – The first round of North Carolina’s Common Core Standard scores are scheduled to be released Thursday morning with the understanding that the numbers aren’t looking good.

Test scores were originally scheduled to be released in October, but instead, the Department of Public Instruction discussed the benchmark for passing scores.

State officials considered whether or not to lower the initial passing scores to allow a chance to ease into the new system, but instead stuck with numbers that have many worried.

The new standards are designed to give the students more depth in their education. Rather than learning a large amount of topics, they are now supposed to be learning more about fewer topics.

The 2012-13 school year is being thought of as a transition year since there isn’t other information with which to compare the new numbers.

Stay tuned to WCHL and for the release of the test results. The state says it expects to release the numbers at around 11:00 a.m.