LCSD No. 2 students maintain an upward trend in state assessment scores in spite of pandemic
◆ Administrators, teachers, parents and students are working together to keep scores above state and national averages.
Lincoln County School District No. 2 administrators are pleased with the overall upward trend of student learning and achievement data that is demonstrated through the WYTOPP assessment.
English and Language Arts, Math and Science are tested as part of the WYTOPP exam each spring. Though students took the assessment in the Spring of 2021, they were unable to take it in the Spring of 2020 due to the pandemic. Students and teachers in LCSD No. 2 have continued to work diligently to maintain competency level scores on district and state standardized tests.
Amanda McAdams, LCSD No. 2 Director of Elementary Education, presented a report to the School Board September 8 in which data showed that, over the last three years, as students progressed in grades 3rd through 8th, students demonstrated consistent overall improvement in Math and ELA performance.
Even with remote learning conditions during the spring of 2020 and the lack of a 2020 WYTOPP assessment, WYTOPP scores overall in ELA and Math continued an upward trend from Spring of 2018 through Spring 2021. Overall, LCSD No. 2 scores present a higher average than other districts throughout Wyoming and throughout the Nation.
Board member Connie Day commented on the data with enthusiasm. “The remarkable thing about this – knowing and reading what is going on across the nation with everybody’s test scores, and how last year everybody’s [test] scores crashed – Good job! Good job parents, families, teachers. That’s phenomenal that [our test scores] have gone up. That’s amazing!”
In agreement with Day, McAdams expanded with other positive reactions to the testing data. “We did not have a huge COVID dip and that is due to the fact that Superintendent Erickson helped make sure we stayed open all year and our teachers worked [extremely hard] to make sure our kids [closed the] gap from the year before. Our families were also very supportive.”
In McAdams’ report, she included data about specific skills within ELA and Math that are measured by the WYTOPP assessment. “I want teachers to care about these. I want them to look at the skills to see what changes they need to make in instruction and what they can celebrate in each of the standards that we have chosen as priorities.”
District Professional Development programs are focused on specifically prioritized instruction which gives teachers additional tools to prepare students more thoroughly for the exams, which should boost scores even further in Math Number Sense, Word Problems, and Fractions. Grammar and Vocabulary are also part of the district’s Elementary ELA focus areas this year.
“Writing took the biggest hit during COVID, because that was the most difficult thing to teach remotely for Elementary,” explained McAdams. “With Secondary, we did not see that same dip, so kudos to our teachers at the Secondary level. They worked extra hard toward the end of the year and then this year to make sure that our writing scores are where we want them to be. We will continue to focus on writing fundamentals as well as endurance this year.”
“My biggest take away, honestly, is that our teachers are [truly] amazing,” beamed McAdams. “They worked really hard, and we did not see the same dip as other districts. When we pick a focus area, they are on board. They are working in their [Professional Learning Communities] to make that a focus area, and then we see it as evidence in the data. That’s my biggest takeaway [from this data].”
Superintendent Matt Erickson explained that administrators in each building are finding things to celebrate from the data as well as things to improve upon. “We are humble enough to know that we still have our work cut out for us, but we also are going to take time to celebrate our wonderful teachers and instructional paras and support staff as well as our great kids.”
McAdams believes that our students’ WYTOPP scores have maintained desirable levels and continued an upward trend because of three conditions that the school district has maintained over the last 2 years: “a. We were in school every day, face-to-face with a live teacher. b. Our outstanding teachers met as district grade level teams early on to identify priority areas of focus and then teachers focused instructional time on those standards. c. We had very supportive families. Instead of a dip in most content areas and grade levels during and after COVID, we either stayed the same or increased our student achievement.”