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Montana testing data shows little change in statewide math, English scores

Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 04, 2019

HELENA — Montana education leaders have released the latest results in the assessment that measures elementary and middle school students’ math and English-language arts proficiencies – and the data shows there has been little change this year.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction announced the results of the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment for the 2018-2019 school year. More than 33,000 students between third and eighth grade took the test.

The data showed 18.9% of students statewide scored in the “advanced” category in English-language arts, 31.1% were “proficient,” 24.2% were “nearing proficiency,” and 25.8% ranked as “novice.” That meant roughly 50% of students were proficient or better, down from 50.5% in the 2017-2018 school year.

In math, 17.4% of students ranked as advanced, 24.5% were proficient, 30.3% were nearing proficiency, and 27.8% ranked as novice. 41.9% were proficient or higher, up slightly from 41.6% the year before.

OPI also broke the data down by grade level. For third- through fifth-graders, the ELA proficiency rate fell from 50.5% in 2017-2018 to 49.8% in 2018-2019. The proficiency rate in math rose from 44.4% to 44.7%.

Among sixth- through eighth-graders, proficiency rates improved slightly in both subjects. ELA proficiency rose from 50.1% to 50.3%, and math proficiency increased from 38.5% to 39%.

“The Office of Public Instruction is committed to working with schools to move the needle on student achievement,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said in a statement. “While one test does not represent a student’s full potential, these results do show where we can start supporting improvement. State assessments in combination with local measurements provide data for teachers to support individualized student success.”

OPI leaders said the state is in its second year of “Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement” efforts, as part the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. They said the agency is working with schools and districts that have high numbers of underperforming students,
especially in certain categories, like American Indian, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, and special education students.

The full Smarter Balanced Assessment results, including data for individual school districts, can be found here.

In Helena Public Schools, the English-language arts proficiency rate was 56% in 2018-2019, down from 56.5% in 2017-2018. The math proficiency rate was 47.5%, down from 48%.

The ELA proficiency at Great Falls Public Schools fell to 52.1%, compared to 53.9% the year before. The math proficiency rate fell from 45.8% to 43.6% over that time.