Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 5, 2013

MVTHS report data won't change

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Mt. Vernon Township High School’s 2012-2013 state test results will remain the same as what’s listed in the district’s School Report Card.

Last month, Superintendent Michael Smith had questioned the accuracy of some of the Report Card data regarding the percentage of MVTHS students who met or exceeded state standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

At issue was the method used to calculate MVTHS’ percentages and whether the state should have excluded certain student test scores.

According to MVTHS calculations, the district’s test results would have been 3 to 5 percentage points higher with the exclusions.

After consulting with the state over the past several weeks, however, Smith said Tuesday he is now comfortable with the Report Card data for 2012-2013 and how the state arrived at its figures.

“The rationale for this year makes sense,” Smith said. “There won’t be any changes forthcoming.”

Even so, Smith said he has lingering concerns about certain discrepancies in the numbers used by MVTHS and the state to determine test score percentages.

For example, MVTHS data indicates about 340 of its students were tested for 2012-2013, while the state has listed a total of 325.

“We’re going to go back and examine the past two or three years (of data) just to be sure,” Smith said. “It still appears like there’s a difference in the numbers.”

The Report Card for 2012-2013 shows 46 percent of MVTHS students met or exceeded standards on the overall PSAE.

The district’s score was 50 percent in reading and 43 percent for both math and science.

MVTHS officials were under the impression the state excludes students’ scores from the overall percentages if they have not been enrolled at the school for at least a year prior to taking the test, said Assistant Principal Rob Pipher.

Under those guidelines, a student would have to be enrolled at the school from May 1 of the prior year to May 1 of the school year they are taking the PSAE for their score to count.

State officials explained, however, that these exclusions are only made when calculating whether a district has met adequate yearly progress standards for the year, Pipher said.

For the School Report Card percentages, the state does not exclude the scores, Pipher said.

Pipher said he would like to see more transparency in how the state calculates test score percentages, especially since districts are judged on this data.

“My concern really is just the transparency of it,” Pipher said.

With the exclusions, the district’s overall PSAE percentage would jump from 46 percent to around 50 percent.

The reading score would rise to 55.6 percent and the math score would increase to 48.5 percent, said MVTHS Principal Wes Olson.

While these increases were not enough for the district to meet AYP, they do indicate notable improvements, Olson said.

To reach Safe Harbor AYP status in reading, MVTHS’ score needed to be at least 55.9 percent, he said.

“If you look at those scores, those show we’re (making) good progress,” Olson said.

The next step, Olson said, will be for district officials to investigate the prior year’s figures and to discuss the matter further with the MVTHS Board of Education. The next school board meeting is Dec. 16.

“We’ll just move forward and look at some of the prior year’s data and talk to the board about that in December,” Olson said.