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Sat, March 23

HUSD students improve in AIMS reading, drop in writing

Humboldt Unified School District's focus over the past four years on reading in the elementary grades has paid off with higher-than-ever reading scores on the AIMS this year, consistent with increases throughout Yavapai County and the state.

"Most of our reading is up," said Diana Green, HUSD director of Educational Services. "Our materials are good, we use DIBELS and RTI, so if a child needs help, we get it to them right away."

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills uses regular assessments of reading skills that show teachers which students have mastered different skill levels and which students need additional help. Response to Intervention also provides frequent progress measurement and interventions for struggling students.

Reading scores increased for seventh-graders at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School by 13 points, from 78 to 91 percent passing. Last year, as sixth-graders, 79 percent passed.

This year, sixth-graders had passing scores of 87 percent (Granville Elementary School), 89 percent (Lake Valley) 90 percent (Coyote Springs and Mountain View) and 98 percent (Humboldt Elementary School).

Green said moving the sixth-grade students back to the elementary schools appears to have benefited the students in several test categories, including the impressive reading scores.

"We know that in math, we didn't see the same kind of growth as we did in reading," Green said.

Sixth-graders gained 1 percentage point more this year than as fifth-graders last year at three schools; CSES sixth-graders scored 9 points lower than as fifth-graders last year; and GES' sixth-graders improved by 8 points.

Green, who was Granville's principal last year, said the school's sixth-grade teachers shared their skills among all classes at the grade level. The teacher with the strongest math skills taught math to all sixth-graders, the one with strong language arts skills taught that subject. She said that accounted for the improvement in math scores at GES with 86 percent of sixth-graders passing.

Also achieving high scores in math were the fourth-graders at GES with 88 percent passing math.

At HES, 88 percent of third-graders also passed the math test and 90 percent of fourth-graders passed. At Mountain View Elementary School, 79 percent of fourth-graders and 80 percent of fifth-graders passed the math portion.

Liberty Traditional School's test results were delayed due to a shipping error. They were unavailable by press time on Tuesday, however, Green said the district had received them.

The district's third-graders did well, with 75 percent passing math compared to the county's 67 percent and the state's 68 percent.

Eighth-graders at both middle schools scored close to the county's (55 percent) and state's (54 percent) math average with 55 percent of Glassford Hill's students passing and 53 percent at BMMS. Seventh-graders at BMMS raised this year's math score from 63 to 75 percent passing, while at GHMS, only 56 percent of seventh-graders passed, a drop of 4 points from last year.

The writing component of the AIMS changed this year to include multiple-choice questions that made up 40 percent of the total score, Green said.

"We knew it was coming, but it's hard to know how to address multiple choice," she said.

Drastic drops in scores across the state moved the state average passing percentages as much as 24 points for fifth-graders (79 to 55 percent) and from 75 percent passing in seventh-grade to 53 passing. Likewise, seventh-graders passing in the county fell to 52 percent, and in the district to 48 percent.

At BMMS, 49 percent of seventh-graders passed the writing portion, and only 46 percent of seventh-graders at GHMS. Sixth-graders in the district passed at rates from 59- 69 percent; fifth-graders passed at 65-77 percent.

Fourth- and eighth-graders took the science test for the second year. At BMMS, the eighth-graders improved by 14 points, with 63 percent passing the science portion. At GHMS, 67 percent of eighth-graders passed. Fourth-graders throughout the district, for the most part, improved with passing rates from 74 percent at CSES to 88 percent at GES.

At Bradshaw Mountain High School, 81 percent of sophomores passed the writing portion of the AIMS, as compared to 82 percent last year. In reading, they achieved even higher scores with 84 percent passing.

However, 62 percent of sophomores passed the math portion, close to the 63 percent from last year; and 49 percent passed the science portion.

"I'm very pleased with the AIMS results," said BMHS Principal Dan Streeter. "We had a pretty strong focus the past couple of years on critical reading and writing skills across all subject areas."

He said a year ago the state average math scores dropped by 12-13 points, but BMHS's dropped only 6 points, which he attributed to teachers working with the changes in the state's math standards. Strengthening the math department this year should lead to higher scores by the end of the year, he added. The science department also has a strong team of teachers.

Green said she was pleased with most of the AIMS results this year.

"The trick is to hire incredible teachers," she said.

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