Test results for each school in the state were recently released by the Agency of Education. Last spring was the second time that the state’s students took the online Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC tests, but the first year that scores will count. From this point forward, the data will be used to determine if a school is meeting proficiency standards.
VTDigger has created visualizations of aggregated testing data by grade, by school and by county. The graphs, maps and charts are designed to help readers see at a glance how students performed on the statewide tests in 2016. Results by school are compared to the statewide average.
Across the state, students in grades 3-8 and 11 take the exam in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. The highest performing schools on the 2016 SBAC’s include: Underhill Central School, Marion Cross School in Norwich, Mount Mansfield High School in Jericho, Barstow Memorial School in Chittenden, Dummerston schools, White River School in Hartford, Montgomery Central School, Newton School in Stratford and South Burlington High School.
On the other end of the spectrum, the schools that performed poorly in one or more grades or subjects include: Newbury Elementary, John F. Kennedy Elementary in Winooski, Cabot School, Winooski Middle School, Troy School, Richford Junior/Senior High, Rochester School, Randolph Union High School #2.
Some of Vermont’s highest performing and lowest performing schools are from the same counties: Chittenden, Franklin, Orange and Windsor.
Schools that performed best in the state were from Chittenden, Franklin, Orange, Windsor and Windham counties. Chittenden and Windsor had the most high performing schools in both subjects.
Low performing schools were in Chittenden, Franklin, Orange, Orleans, Washington and Windsor counties.
It’s important to note that until several more years of test score data is made available, it is difficult to determine if a group of students is outperforming others because of instruction or the makeup of a given class.
At least three years of test results are needed to analyze trends, according to Michael Hock, the Agency of Education’s director of assessment.
“This three-year rule is particularly important in Vermont’s small schools where one really bright student can tip the average and make it look like there was a positive change,” he said, adding that it also works in the opposite direction.
The Agency of Education did not have large enough data sets for 47 very small schools and did not release the information for fear of identifying individual students test scores. Nearly 25 percent of elementary schools and 18 percent of middle schools were too small to report data for the “all students” category, according to the agency.
VTDigger has created a series of interactive charts that allow for an exploration of how schools performed in 2016. The first chart 2016 Smarter Balance Test Scores By Grade shows how all students performed in each public school at each grade level. It also shows how students performed in each school in each county. In addition, VTDigger shows test scores against poverty levels and spending per student.
Proficiency is consistent by town in the lower grades, but as students get older data shows that more students are performing poorly, particularly in mathematics.
The income level of the students also played a role in outcomes. Our analysis of Agency of Education data, revealed that the best performing schools in multiple grades in both subjects had 12 percent or less students on the federal meals program, the free and reduced price lunch plan, an indicator of poverty. The schools that performed best were Underhill Central in Underhill and Marion Cross School in Norwich.
Barstow Memorial (25 percent), Dummerston Schools (33 percent) and South Burlington High School (45 percent) had the highest percent of students living in poverty among the schools that scored highest in English. Montgomery Central School (55 percent) and White River School (46 percent) are among schools that received high math scores and also had high populations of students eligible for free or reduced lunch.
In fact, among the schools that performed the best, students living in poverty did better on the math test than the English test. High performing schools did not have diverse student populations, nor did they have a sizable population of students that were English language learners.
The schools that performed poorly in both subjects by comparison had more low-income, English language learners and special education students than the high performing schools. Seventy-two percent of the students at Troy School receive free and reduced lunch. Almost a quarter of the students at the Winooski schools are English language learners.
There are several instances where low-income students outperformed wealthier peers. More students in poverty in grade three at Enosburg Elementary were proficient in English and math than wealthier students in other schools. Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe has said that AOE will be contacting these schools to find out what teachers have done to improve learning.
Schools with the lowest performance levels had high rates of poverty.
The lowest performing schools on the SBAC spent less per student than schools that had the highest scores.
On average the highest performing schools spent approximately $15,000 per equalized pupil while the lowest scoring schools spent around $13,000.
Teachers at the highest performing schools had an average salary of $65,000. The schools with the best math scores paid teachers an average of $60,000. Among the schools with the lowest scores in English and math, teachers were paid around $52,000 on average.
Each of the lowest performing schools failed to meet federal accountability standards — some for multiple years. It is interesting to note that Mount Mansfield, where the 11th graders tied with South Burlington to score best in the state in mathematics, is in year two of a school improvement plan.
Links to reports:
Data points of note
- The average spent per equalized pupil from all schools that scored highest on ELA was $15,092. The average spent per equalized pupil from all schools that scored highest on math was $14,671.
- The average per equalized pupil spending of low performing schools in ELA was $12,735 and in math the average was $12,470. Among the schools that performed well on English the average equalized per pupil spending was $15,092 a difference of $2,357 per pupil. Likewise in math there was a difference of $2,201.
- The average teacher pay of all schools with the highest ELA scores was: $64,852; the average teacher pay of all schools with the highest math scores was: $59,647.
- The average teacher salary for schools that performed poorly on English was $52,742 and for math $52,414. Among the schools that performed well on English the average salary was $64,852 – a difference of $12,110. In mathematics, the high performing schools paid an average salary of $59,647 – a difference of $7,233.