Nearly a quarter of Arkansas students taking the end of course algebra examination this year scored at the advanced level, and nearly a fifth of those taking the end of course geometry examination scored at the advanced level this year as well. “Advanced” is the category of the top range of scores on the state’s criterion-referenced tests, which are part of the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP). The remaining categories of scores are proficient, basic and below basic.
The 2005 scores represent a significant improvement over last year’s student performance. In 2005, 23 percent scored at the advanced level on the algebra exam while 14 percent did in 2004. In geometry, the proportion scoring advanced increased to 17 percent in 2005 from 10 percent in 2004. The proportion of students scoring at the proficient level remained close to 2004 levels, with 37 percent scoring proficient in algebra this year and 38 percent scoring proficient in geometry this year. Therefore, the state experienced a significant increase in the proportion of students performing above basic on the two exams from 2004 to 2005.
“These end of course examination results are yet another indicator that we are on the right track with
education in Arkansas,” said Dr. Ken James, Commissioner of Education with the Arkansas Department
of Education. “This is great news for all educators in Arkansas, whose hard work is paying off, but even more so for the students of the state. The improved math skills they are gaining now will help them greatly as they pursue their goals and dreams in future years.”
Dr. James credited initiatives such as the Smart Start program in kindergarten through fourth grades and the Smart Step program for middle school (fifth through eighth) grades with helping teachers prepare students for success in higher-level math classes.
Disparities between racial groups persist on the end of course examinations, but they narrowed by three percentage points from 2004 to 2005 in both comparisons between Caucasians and African-Americans and between Caucasians and Hispanics. Dr. Gayle Potter, Associate Director of Academic Standards and Assessment with the Department of Education, said increased focus will be placed on refining instructional techniques for those groups as well as for students scoring below basic. About 15 percent scored at below basic on both tests in 2005 and 2004. “Staff development – that’s the key,” Dr. Potter said. “We will keep working to give Arkansas educators proven strategies for reaching and educating those students who are not achieving at grade level.”
The end of course algebra exams were given in April to 32,484 Arkansas students while 26,445 Arkansas students took the end of course geometry exam that month. The same tests were given in January to the 802 algebra students and 1,163 geometry students who completed the courses mid-year.