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District students test above state average

Date: 12/13/2010

Dec. 13, 2010

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM -- Students in the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) continue to be ahead of the curve academically compared to state and national testing trends, according to Assistant Superintendent Donna Scanlon.

Whether it be the MCAS, SATs or Advanced Placement tests, students are performing well above average. In addition to that, the district's test scores continue to get better.

"We have been consistently above the state average, including the last set of scores," Scanlon said of the MCAS test. "The percentage of students who scored advanced or proficient has increased over the last six years."

Included in those improvements are scores for third and seventh-grade mathematics that are "at historically high levels," according to Scanlon.

According to information regarding the spring, 2010, MCAS tests on the Massachusetts Department of Education's Web site, 35 percent of third grade students within the district that scored at the "advanced/above proficient" level, 10 percent higher than the state average.

An additional 46 percent were deemed proficient, as compared with a 40 percent state average. Only 3 percent of students fell in the "warning/failing" category, while the state average was 11 percent.

In seventh grade, 20 percent of students ranked "advanced/above proficient" in math while the state averaged 14 percent. In addition, 51 percent of students were proficient in the subject, a huge jump over the state average of 39 percent. Only 9 percent fell in the "warning/failing" category, compared to the 19 percent state average.

At the high school level, students participating in SAT testing also proved to be better prepared than most students both statewide and nationwide.

According to Scanlon, in 2010, HWRSD students recorded an average score of 518 in critical reading. The state average was 512, while the national average was 501.

In math, students in the district scored an average of 544, while the state average was 526 and the national average 516.

The additional writing component of the test, which was implemented in 2006, yielded very strong scores from HWRSD students with an average of 523, marking a substantial increase. The state average was 509 and the national average was 492.

"When the writing component of the test was first given, the average score was 509," Scanlon said. "Over the last four years, it has been between 522 and 527."

Scanlon said the high writing scores were a direct result of the district's focus on nurturing writing skills from kindergarten through high school graduation.

"We continually work on strong writing skills and we have a focus on writing across the board," Scanlon said. "We want to prepare children to be successful beyond high school. That means teaching students not just writing, but writing to understand concepts better and with more depth and to use writing to process information, review and connect with other information they already have."

Among AP tests, 80 to 90 percent of students score at level 3 or higher. AP tests are scored on a five-point scale, with 5 being the highest, or "extremely well qualified." Level three indicates "qualified."

"That's significant because 100 students tend to take AP tests every year," Scanlon said. "A level three score puts thin in a good place to be successful."

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