February 04. 2013 10:40PM

NH students tread water in statewide assessment test

Staff Report

New Hampshire students held their own in reading and showed slight improvements in math and writing in statewide standardized tests taken last fall.

Reading test results showed 79 percent of third- through eighth-graders and 11th-graders statewide proved themselves proficient (22 percent) or proficient with distinction (57 percent) on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) - the same percentage as the year before.

Meanwhile, students statewide scored slightly better in math and writing than they did the year before, according to test results made public Jan. 31. Students who performed at proficient or proficient with distinction levels totaled 68 percent in math last fall, compared to 67 percent the year before.

A total 55 percent students performed at proficient and above levels in writing last fall, compared to 54 percent the year before.

The remaining students scored at either partial proficiency or substantially below proficient.

Manchester lags

Manchester students in grades three through eight and eleventh-graders collectively scored below state levels.

The percentage of Manchester students scoring proficient or better in reading last fall was 61 compared to 62 percent the year before; 50 percent in math compared to 51 percent the year before; and 44 percent in writing compared to 41 percent the year before.

But test scores show clear improvement when reviewed by grade level over the last three years, said Merry Fortier, school accountability consultant with the state Department of Education.

"By the time students got in eighth grade, their scores are still below the state average, but they are the highest (they've been) in three years. So they are trending in the direction you want them to trend in and that's true in reading, math and writing," she said.

Smyth Road and Green Acres Elementary schools had the highest reading and math proficiency scores, she said. Hallsville went from 62 percent to 69 percent reading proficiency, while Weston increased from 65 percent to 70 percent reading proficiency.

"Again, this isn't where they want to be. But they are moving in a positive direction," Fortier said.

Eleventh-graders at Manchester public high schools generally did not perform as well.

Manchester Memorial High School saw math proficiency fall from 30 percent to 24 percent and writing drop from 45 to 39 percent. Reading remained nearly unchanged: 70 percent to 69 percent.

At Manchester Central High School, reading went from 77 percent to 64 percent proficiency while writing dropped from 56 percent to 41 percent. Math remained nearly the same, going from 31 percent to 30 percent.

Manchester West High School saw gains in writing and math proficiency, 19 percent to 21 percent and 18 percent to 19 percent respectively. Reading went from 55 percent to 53 percent.

Bedford, Goffstown

The percentage of Bedford students who showed themselves at least proficient in reading, math and writing were 93, 87 and 71 percent respectively. This compares with reading, math and writing scores of 94 percent, 88 percent and 75 percent the year before.

In Goffstown, 84 percent of the students scored proficient and above in reading, 72 percent in math and 64 percent in writing in 2012. This compares to 84 percent who scored at least proficient in reading, 73 percent in math and 58 percent in writing the year prior.

Hooksett results

In Hooksett, 87 percent of students scored at least proficient in reading, 80 percent in math and 63 percent in writing in 2012.

This compares with 84 percent who scored at least proficient in reading, 81 percent in math and 63 percent in writing the year before.

State Education Commissioner Virginia Barry called the statewide 2012 NECAP performances "statistically the same" compared with prior years.

This is the eighth year NECAP tests were taken by third- through eighth-graders and the sixth year it has been administered to high school students, she said.

"Approximately 10 percent more students at each grade and in each content area are achieving grade-level standards than were at the beginning of the NECAP assessment program," Barry said in a statement.