It has been two years since the state of California has been releasing data from the standardized end-of year CCSS assessment, CAASPP (California’s version of the SBAC test: the California Assessment of Student Performance & Progress)
Last year, I posted the data from the first publicized CAASPP results, and they showed very promising results for our (almost completely) paperless 6th grade team!
However, I have to admit that I was anxious to see this following year’s results, partly because there were some questions raised about whether the first year’s results could have been merely due to having an especially-proficient group of students (it is true that, coincidentally, our 2014-2015 cohort of students had a lower number of English Learners and higher number of GATE students than average for our school.) Since we had no standardized data of performance from previous years, there was no way of knowing (for certain) whether the success levels we saw were due to our pedagogy (and skillful technology integration), or due merely to the confounding variable of simply getting “a good class.”
Well, the newest test scores have been reported, and the results are pretty astounding: our “low performing”, “high EL” group of students had even higher percentages of students who “met or exceeded standard” than the previous year’s “strong” students!
Even though I was awaiting the test scores because I just knew we would be more successful than people had imagined, I was still fairly blown away when I saw just how successful we were:
Not only did our tech-based grade level have the highest levels of proficiency in the district, but we can also conclusively say that the results were not because it was a group of innately-superior group of kids. In fact, this cohort of students made huge gains in proficiency compared to the previous year:
ELA (English Language Arts) Success
In 5th grade, 39% met or exceeded standard; in paperless 6th grade, that number jumped to 63% of students. That’s nearly a 60% year-over-year increase in the number of proficient students!
In 5th grade, 31% of these students met or exceeded standard. After joining our all-digital 6th grade math curriculum, 55% of students met or exceeded standard! (That is a WHOPPING 77% INCREASE in the number of proficient students!)
The Keys to Success
Considering the circumstances and the data, it seems we are doing something right! And that’s a great feeling, because sometimes it’s hard to tell, and it’s easy to feel lost or unsuccessful at times…
So, if it’s not the demographic that is the cause of success — and, with about 80% free-and-reduced lunches, 80% EL students, and an even higher percentage of Hispanic students… it’s certainly not a privileged group of students; this is actually an “at-risk” demographic we are talking about — what, then, is leading to these fairly successful numbers?
I have a few sound theories, but it’s going to take a whole other post to delve into what, exactly, makes our technology-integrated classrooms so successful (and the technology itself is only one piece of that puzzle.)
In an upcoming post, I will outline 6 key things our 6th grade team is doing to try to ensure academic success year after year.