University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

ACT Aspire Results: A Primer

In The View from the OEP on July 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Last week, preliminary scores from the spring administration of the ACT Aspire were released by the ADE, and the news was good!

In today’s blog we highlight performance patterns by subject overall and by grade, to help put your district/ school results in context.

 

Before you start ‘digging in’ to your data, you need to be aware of what the results look like across the state.  Maybe that gain in ELA is amazing– or maybe it looks like nothing when compared with gains made by similar districts.  If you want to see more detailed school- and district- level information, both by grade level and OVERALL, you can find it on the OEP website here!

Overall, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks increased nearly 5 percentage points in English Language Arts, just over 4 percentage points in mathematics, and 2 percentage points in science.

ACT_201617

ACT Aspire: Percentage of Arkansas Students Meeting/Exceeding Readiness Benchmarks, by Subject, 2015-16 and 2016-17


In English Language Arts, (a combination of English, Reading, and Writing scores) almost all grade levels saw over 50% of students meeting or exceeding benchmarks and all grade levels evidence gains in proficiency rates. The performance pattern was similar to 2015-16 results, with somewhat lower ELA proficiency rates in the lower grades.  Here at OEP we advise you to use CAUTION when examining the sub-scores that make up ELA proficiency.  The HUGE gains in the writing domain in some grades may or may not be the result of changes in instructional practice at your school. We are limiting this analysis to ELA overall. 

ELA highlights:

  • 6th grade reported the highest ELA proficiency rate at 62%
  • 4th grade saw the largest gain from prior year: the increase of 8 percentage points was driven by a large increase in writing scores (+19)
  • 3rd grade ELA scores continue to be the lowest with only 41% of students meeting benchmarks
  • 3rd grade ELA proficiency rates increased less than other grade levels across the state and this was the only grade level whose writing scores decreased from the prior year

 

 

ELA_201617

ACT Aspire ELA: Percentage of Arkansas Students Meeting/Exceeding Readiness Benchmarks by Grade, 2015-16 and 2016-17

 


In Mathematics about half of the grade levels saw over 50% of students meeting or exceeding benchmarks and all grade levels evidenced gains in proficiency rates. The performance pattern was similar to 2015-16 results, with much lower mathematics proficiency rates in the upper grades.

Math highlights:

  • 6th grade reported the highest mathematics proficiency rate at 62%
  • 6th grade also saw the largest gain from prior year with an increase of 7 percentage points
  • 10th grade math scores continue to be the lowest with only 25% of students meeting benchmarks
  • 4th grade math proficiency rates increased less than other grade levels across the state
Math_201617

ACT Aspire Mathematics: Percentage of Arkansas Students Meeting/Exceeding Readiness Benchmarks by Grade, 2015-16 and 2016-17

 


In Science no grade levels saw over 50% of students meeting or exceeding readiness benchmarks, but nearly all grade levels evidenced gains in proficiency rates. The performance pattern was similar to 2015-16 results, with moderate proficiency rates in all grades.

Science highlights:

  • 6th grade reported the highest mathematics proficiency rate at 49%
  • 9th grade also saw the largest gain from prior year with an increase of 5 percentage points
  • 9th grade math scores continue to be the lowest with only 32% of students meeting benchmarks
  • 6th grade science proficiency rates decreased 3 percentage points from the prior year
Science_201617

ACT Aspire Science: Percentage of Arkansas Students Meeting/Exceeding Readiness Benchmarks by Grade, 2015-16 and 2016-17

 


What types of districts made the biggest gains?

Across districts, gains were fairly consistent regardless of prior year performance.  The scatterplot below illustrates the percentage of students meeting or exceeding ELA and math readiness benchmarks by district for 2015-16 and 2016-17. The correlation with prior year performance is very strong for both content areas.

ELA_District

Math_District

 

So- what are the big takeaways from the preliminary ACT Aspire results? 

  • Performance is UP over prior year!
  • Increases are consistent across grade levels and subject areas (with few exceptions).
  • Increases are fairly consistent across districts.

This is all good news, and the first consistent measure we have had in several years!  Although proficiency rates are still lower than we would like to see, they are moving in the right direction and the assessment seems to be stable across years!

As you dig in to your data, celebrate the successes of students in your districts /schools, look for areas where you can continue to improve – and remember to put these results in context!

Stay tuned for more info from OEP!

 

 

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