The state Department of Education has released the results of its third annual Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System report.

The assessment collects and compares the test results of students in third through tenth grades in the areas of math, reading, science and social studies to help educators determine proficiency.

Brian Touchette, director of the Accountability Resources Workgroup said the state continues to make gains since the DCAS implementation in 2011 but showed little movement between 2012 and 2013.

Reading Scores Up, Math Declines

The data shows students are making steady improvements in reading overall, however, math results showed a slight decline.

“We’re very happy about the sustained proficiency in reading, we were able to sustain the gains that we had from three years ago, from 2011,” said Touchette. “In terms of mathematics, we did see a decline of three percent from 2012 to 2013, but we were also pleased to see that were able to still be ahead of where we were in 2011.”

The assessment also looks at what performance level students are reaching. In reading, the majority of students are scored in the “Advanced” level, while in math, the majority of students scored in the “Meets” level.

“Scoring at the advanced level is an important indicator of college readiness, making these gains particularly encouraging,” said Mark Murphy, secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “We have no illusions about the challenge of improving secondary school performance. Our students and educators deserve praise for the hard work that has led to this progress.”

Additionally, students continue to make gains in social studies, while science shows no change and even a declining interest in the subject from high school students.

“For science, it’s fairly flat over the last three years," said Touchette.  "However, the one concern we do have is the participation rates in high school.” The participation for 8th graders on the test was 87 percent. Typically, they aim for a 95 percent participation rate.

He explained that low participation rates tend to be present in high school and was present only in eighth grade science this year. Participation rates for science in all other grades were up.

“This participation rate is not acceptable, and we recognize that, and we are very concerned about this.  It will not be ignored,” said Touchette. “We are currently running analysis of which schools have poor participation rates, and then also which districts, and then following up with those districts specifically.”

Partnership Zone Schools

In 2012, the state added six more schools to its Partnership Zone program, bringing the total number of schools in the program to 10. The partnership zone schools are part of the state’s Race to the Top grant and utilize extra assistance.

Half of the 10 Partnership Zone schools showed improvement in reading proficiency from 2012 to 2013 while only three out of 10 showed positive changes in math.

Positive Outcome Charter showed drastic increases in reading, showing an 18 point increase from 2012-2013 and a 31 point increase overall since 2011.

In math, Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary maintained positive math proficiency compared to 2011 rates.