February 13. 2014 9:52PM

Pinkerton students make gains in reading, writing test scores

Union Leader Correspondent

DERRY — Pinkerton Academy’s NECAP scores showed increases in the latest round of testing in reading and writing, while staying level in math.

The scores rose sharply in writing, going up 15 percent, and increased by 3 percent in reading, according to administrators.

The NECAP tests were developed by the New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont departments of education. The test of reading, writing and math is administered in October to juniors throughout the state and the science portion is administered in May.

A few factors likely played a role in this year’s spike in writing, said Chris Harper, dean of academic affairs. Since reading and writing are closely linked, the high school has placed its focused on helping students who struggle with reading. Some students arrive at Pinkerton reading at one to three years below grade level, he said.

In the program, teachers who are reading specialists work directly in the classroom with the students, Harper said. By the time students reach their junior year, many are reading at grade level.

It isn’t easy, but all of the hard work in the classroom is resulting in improved reading scores, Harper said.

“Getting students who are one to three years below their grade level up to proficiency is an awesome task,” Harper said.

As for math, Pinkerton students scored at approximately the same level as the rest of the state, Harper said.

“We are not where we would like to be,” Harper said.

To help students who may be struggling with math, the school has hired a specialist to work as a math coach. Math isn’t an easy subject for many of students, not just at Pinkerton, but at high schools across the state, Harper said.

Students sometimes have a difficult time seeing math problems in real world terms, Harper said.

“It’s not just taking a quadratic equation and factoring it, it’s an involved scenario,” Harper said.

As a real world example, he said, he recently ordered three cords of wood. When he checked the delivery, it seemed a little light, and he wasn’t sure if he had received three full cords. But after performing some calculations, he realized the order was correct.