Thursday, January 5, 2012

Urban Districts Decline in 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency; Lynn Improves Slightly

The blog Eye on Early Education focuses on the goals of ensuring that children in Massachusetts have access to high-quality early education and that they become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. Proficiency in 3rd grade reading has been established as a huge indicator of the likelihood of graduating from high school.  In September 2010, the blog reported that proficiency rates on the 3rd grade reading MCAS exam were up from 2009 in 10 urban districts in the state; increases varied from two percentage points to fifteen percentage points. Unfortunately, the increases seen in 2010 did not continue in 2011 in all of the urban districts.

Fall River 35%37%40%
New Bedford38%53%45%

Only three urban districts continued to see an increase in 3rd grade reading proficiency rates in 2011 (highlighted in teal). Increases for the three districts that did improve in 2011 were minimal ranging from only one to three percentage points.

In Lynn, some elementary schools saw huge gains in 3rd grade reading proficiency rates while others decreased. Highlighted in teal here are the Lynn elementary schools that saw increases in the percentage of students who scored proficient or higher on the 3rd grade reading exam from 2010 to 2011. Increases ranged from four to eighteen percentage points. Three schools (Ford, Aborn, and Sisson) either met or exceeded the state average for this particular exam while Connery, a Level 4 school, increased from a 9% proficiency rate in 2009 to a 37% proficiency rate in 2011. Though Sisson did decline in its 3rd grade proficiency rate, the school still performed better than the state average.

Hood 35%30%48%
Lynn Woods77%54%52%
Sewell Anderson38%63%43%

While Lynn as a whole is increasing in terms of 3rd grade proficiency rates, there is always room for improvement. This particularly true as there seems to be an achievement gap at this level between certain subgroups in the city such as male/female (41% proficient vs. 52%) and low income/non-low income (43% versus 62%) among others. As proficiency in reading in the 3rd grade has important implications for future academic success, improving and increasing students' literacy skills is essential to raising educational achievement in Lynn and other urban districts.

**Data Taken from:


  1. What is happening at Aborn and Sisson that apparently is not happening at other schools? What is the number of students in those classes? What other pluses do they have other schools don't have? Lynn Woods is really declining!

  2. There may be instructional and/or class size differences between Aborn/Sisson and some of the other elementary schools but the difference in test scores is probably most attributable to a difference in student populations. Aborn, for example, is 22.3% ESL, 10.1% Limited English Proficiency, and 53.5% Low Income while Cobbet is 74.7% ESL, 48.7% Limited English Proficiency and 89.8% Low Income. One sees similar numbers to Cobbet at Harrington and Connery as well. Therefore students at Aborn/Sisson may be attending school with a whole host of skills/knowledge that a larger percentage of the students at the other schools don't have (basic English language skills).

    Ford is also similar in terms of demographics but seemed to be overcoming this challenge to a certain extent at the 3rd grade level (their 4th and 5th grade numbers are much lower).

    Other factors to consider are:
    -special education populations
    -parental involvement/education
    -student absences
    -psychiatric and/or medical diagnoses
    -home factors (domestic violence, child neglect/abuse, parental addiction, nutrition, TV/video game time, enrichment activities, homelessness, financial strain/joblessness)

    When you think about all the things that can affect a child's ability to learn effectively, it can become a lot more complex than what is or isn't being done just in the classroom.

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