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Vermont standardized test scores analysis

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – This was the first year the Vermont Comprehensive Exam was administered with a new vendor, and the test looked different for students.

Vermont’s Comprehensive Exam is a standardized test taken every year to assess achievement levels in math, reading, and science. This year’s scores show that many Vermont students still aren’t reaching high proficiency rates after taking the exam last spring.

The state says there was a slight 10% increase in proficiency rates across the board with the new exam. However, there are gaps in subjects and the profile of the student taking the exam, with all three subjects only having 50% proficiency or lower.

Proficiency rates for math grades 3-9 averaged at roughly 35%, whereas reading was around 50%.

For science tested in grades 5, 8, and 11, the average proficiency levels were at a rate of around 45%.

There’s also a 30% gap in proficiency rates among students who come from historically marginalized communities, which is something the Agency of Education says highlights work to be done. They say the slight increase in proficiency wasn’t necessarily a universal trend among every student.

The state plan for education says the long-term goal is to have 100% of schools showing an average score at the mid-point of the proficiency range by 2025.

“Each school sets its own goals. And so it’s a little bit different, difficult to speak for all of them, but generally speaking, what we encourage them to do with these results is look at them and see where they have strengths and weaknesses. And use those strengths and weaknesses to guide their planning decisions. So about maybe targeting certain populations or adopting certain instructional interventions that may be focused on math, for example,” said Dupuis.

She says overall, this year’s numbers are similar to those in 2019, pre-COVID.

The Agency of Education says the rollout had its ups and downs, but they’ll be fine-tuning the program to improve the tests in the years to come.

Dupuis said, “we know that schools felt some of that challenge. We also know some schools though, had challenges under the previous assessment and reported that last year was their best testing here in a long time. So I think it was next. We’ve done quite a bit of analysis behind the scenes over the summer and fall to ensure that nothing about last year’s administration had an effect on the results and we feel very confident that’s the case.”

This is the completion of the first year of the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Exam. Previously, the SBAC was the exam of choice. This new exam will be administered for at least the next 4 years, and the next round of tests is in March.

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