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New assessment tool shows Whitefish students performing above national average

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | November 10, 2021 1:00 AM

A new assessment tool implemented for the first time at Whitefish Schools this fall found that students performed above the national average when compared to other students who took the same diagnostic test.

The i-Ready tool replaces the previous assessment system used called STAR, providing teachers and the district with data that should align better with the state testing standards, according toCurriculum Director Lisa Bloom.

Whitefish students in grades kindergarten through 12th in September completed the first round of i-Ready testing in both reading and math, and will repeat the assessment twice more throughout the school year.

“We feel like we’re in a really good place, this is our base,” Bloom told the school board at a recent meeting. “We’ll take this assessment again in January and May, and we hope to see growth in each one of those five level placement areas.”

Twenty-four percent of Whitefish students have met or surpassed the minimum requirements for standards at their grade level while nationally only 14% of students are at the highest level for their grade this fall. Nationally 65% of students in grades K-12 that took the i-Ready assessments tested proficient in standards learned in their previous grade level or above those standards — Whitefish students had 79% in those categories, with only 21% testing two or more grades below their current grade which suggests some kind of intervention is needed.

In the i-Ready results charts there are five color codes ranging from red stripe, students testing three or more levels below their grade’s standards, all the way to green stripe, students already at or above their current grade’s standards.

The bulk of Whitefish students tested in the yellow-colored range which means students have not mastered any grade level standards yet, but are primed to learn. Bloom says that’s a good place for students to be in the fall.

“Yellow says you don’t know the standards yet for the grade level that you’re in, but that would make sense right?” she said. “Because we don’t expect kids to know that standard until we end the year.”

The test results data is broken down into several categories for the district, administration and teachers to use. The district results are shown by schools and also by grade levels for both reading and math. Then the results are broken down further into different domains of both subjects — for example, in reading the domains include categories such as phonological awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and more.

Teachers can also access each individual student’s results, which helps drive intervention for students falling behind or the next steps of progression for those already testing out of their grade level.

“All teachers have the ability to classify and sort their students according to those domains, so we can… personalize our instruction with what exactly the students need,” Bloom said.

“i-Ready provides all kinds of next steps, for teachers it will explicitly state what they need to be learning next and provides us with resources,” she added.

The i-Ready assessment results will give teachers a clear path ahead for helping students no matter what level at which their assessment shows proficiency, the district notes.

Students will test again in January and May.