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Libby scores show yearly improvement

| September 17, 2004 12:00 AM

By Paul Boring, Western News Reporter

Libby students showed marked improvement on their Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores, in many cases surpassing previous goals.

The district has been working feverishly to comply with the federally mandated No Child Left Behind legislation, which will use the standardized test scores to determine if schools are making adequate yearly progress.

For now, the ITBS is being used to gauge compliance in proficiency with the focus on reading and mathematics. In 2005, science will be added.

Last year the Libby schools gave the test to students in kindergarten through 11th grade. Although the state only picks up the tab for grades 4, 8 and 11, the district chose to pay for the remaining grade levels, using the diagnostic data to quantify student progress.

³It¹s worth it,² said Superintendent Kirby Maki.

The district set specific proficiency goals for grades 4, 8 and 11, and in many cases met or exceeded the goals.

³We set goals that we thought were relatively high, but then again not knowing at that particular point what things were going to be on a state and federal level,² Maki said. ³We set them there and actually already achieved many of them, and the ones we haven¹t were pretty darn close.²

At the elementary school level, students in fourth grade produced scores showing 77 percent proficiency, surpassing the 2005 goal by 1 percent. In math they achieved 75 percent efficiency, beating the goal by 2 percent.

Curriculum director Jael Prezeau said

the strength of the elementary core curriculum is the fourth grade science program, which surpassed the 2005 goal by 5 percent with 84 percent proficiency.

³We¹re a really science strong district,² Prezeau said.

Math scores for eighth grade students rose dramatically, increasing by 15 percent and showing a 77 percent proficiency, surpassing the goal by 4 percent. The 2005 goal for reading will expect a 2 percent increase in reading scores, which Maki said should be achievable.

³We¹re in that 2004 year where we still have a chance to achieve those goals,² he said.

The middle school science program is also the strength of the core curriculum, Prezeau said, with students showing the same collective proficiency as fourth graders.

To reach 2005 goals set for eleventh graders, the percentage of proficient students will need to increase 1 percent in the reading portion of the test and 6 percent in math. As with the other grade levels, science was a strong subject at the high school, with 82 percent of the eleventh grade students proficient.

The Criterion Reference Test, which was administered last year for the first time, will be used exclusively in the future, replacing the more familiar ITBS.

³These are completely different types of tests,² Maki said. ³With the ITBS, we can look at our scores from the past. The CRT is the only test that is going to be used in the future. With the CRT, we have no baseline. The first year we took it was at the end of last year, where there¹s no way we can compare. It¹s going to take a while before we can determine how much the students have improved.²

The district will not know if it has made adequate yearly progress until October and the CRT scores will not be released until November.

³There are a lot of gray areas right now,² Maki said. ³There are a lot of question marks.²

The ITBS test scores show that the curriculums at the different schools are working. Maki was optimistic that the scores would only continue to climb.

³I was pleased that in many areas school-wide, we actually achieved the 2005 goals we set for ourselves,² he said. ³This is very positive.²