Although state test scores show across-the-board growth in academic achievement among Bigfork students, Jackie Boshka knows there is still a lot of room for improvement.
In her presentation at last Wednesday’s school board meeting, Boshka — who recently became the district’s director of curriculum — summarized Bigfork students’ performance in the Montana Comprehensive Assessment System’s Criterion-Referenced Test (CRT) for the 2010-2011 school year.
The test, which is administered every March to students in 10th grade and grades three through eight, allows schools to compare the academic proficiency of their students to other districts around the state in the areas of reading, math and science.
Overall, Boshka was pleased with student performance, especially in the reading category.
“Our third-graders were among four elementary schools in the northwest that achieved 100 percent proficiency in reading, and that’s amazing,” Boshka said.
In fact, none of the grade levels scored lower than 90 percent in reading.
“I think having full-day kindergarten has had a big impact on that,” Boshka said.
Bigfork students also performed well in the math category.
“In math, we were proficient in all but the 10th grade, but we did achieve good growth in math in the high school,” Boshka said. “We were the highest-scoring high school in the Flathead Valley (in math).”
Science was the toughest category for Bigfork students. Eighth-graders turned in the highest scores in the district with 78 percent proficiency. Fourth-graders were 68 percent proficient, while 10th graders showed only 47 percent proficiency.
“Science scores are traditionally low in the elementary, and in high school there are so many different scientific disciplines, so it is hard to test,” Boshka said. “We see similar results across the state and across the nation.”
Boshka said staff members are working toward improving performance in science.
“We agreed that it would be really great if we could raise achievement in science and make it a really important subject in our schools,” Boshka said.
Bigfork science teachers have also requested a different test to measure proficiency.
“Our science teachers don’t want to make excuses, but they don’t think it’s a good test,” Boshka said. “They want another assessment, so we’re going to look into that.”
The results of the assessment help Boshka and other staff members identify specific academic areas and concepts that need more attention in the classroom. The tests also allow teachers to cater to the needs of each student.
“We can look at each kid individually and identify the students who might need some kind of intervention to help bring them back up to a level of proficiency,” Boshka said.
Bigfork school board chair Maureen Averill cautioned those present at the meeting not to get too caught up in comparing student achievement in the Bigfork district with other area schools.
“One of the problems with a small-world school is that it’s easy to get caught up with how we stand within our county and within our state, but we’re in a global society,” Averill said. “I think we need to focus more on what we can do to keep our kids competitive on an international level.”
The next board meeting will be at 5 p.m. Oct. 26.