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News Release - Results from the new science and social studies tests on track with state expectations

Oct. 27, 2014

Results from the new science and social studies tests on track with state expectations

New standards reflect higher expectations with fewer students meeting or exceeding those expectations

Results from the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) science and social studies tests reveal that new, more rigorous standards bring new, more rigorous tests with fewer students meeting or exceeding state expectations.

New state science and social studies assessments measuring the Colorado Academic Standards were administered online in Colorado for the first time in the 2013-14 school year. The assessments were developed collaboratively by the Colorado Department of Education, assessment contractor Pearson, and Colorado educators. Elementary (fourth-grade social studies and fifth-grade science) and middle school (seventh-grade social studies and eighth-grade science) assessments were administered in the spring of 2014. High school (12th-grade science and social studies) assessments will be administered this fall, Nov. 3- 21.

The test results establish a new baseline for science and a first ever baseline for social studies for Colorado. The tests are based on Colorado-developed standards in science and social studies. To reflect the new expectations, new student performance level labels and descriptors were adopted. They include distinguished command, strong command, moderate command and limited command. The top two levels indicate that a student is on track for being college and career ready.

State level performance highlights

Science, Grade 5

  • 34 percent of students scored in the Distinguished and Strong Command performance levels.

Science, Grade 8

  • 32 percent of students scored in the Distinguished and Strong Command performance levels.

Social Studies, Grade 4

  • 17 percent of students scored in the Distinguished and Strong Command performance levels.

Social Studies, Grade 7

  • 17 percent of students scored in the Distinguished and Strong Command performance levels.

Subgroups

  • Across the grades and content areas, significant gaps were found between the highest scoring race/ethnicity subgroup and the black and Hispanic subgroups in terms of percent of students achieving Strong or Distinguished Command.
  • Science. In grade 5, white students had the highest percentage of students achieving Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels (46 percent) compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Asian students (44 percent) and students of two or more races (40 percent) were within 6 percentage points. Fewer black (13 percent) and Hispanic (15 percent) students achieved the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels.
  • Science. In grade 8, Asian students (47 percent) had the highest percentage of students achieving Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels compared to other racial/ethnic groups. White students (43 percent) and students of two or more races (39 percent) were within 8 percentage points. Fewer black (14 percent) and Hispanic (16 percent) students achieved the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels.
  • Social Studies. In grades 4 and 7, Asian students had the highest percentage of students achieving Strong or Distinguished performance levels (28 percent and 34 percent respectively). Twenty-four percent of white students achieved Strong or Distinguished Command in fourth-grade and 22 percent did so in seventh-grade. Six to seven percent of students in both the black and Hispanic subgroups achieved Strong or Distinguished Command in fourth-grade and seventh-grade.

Gender

  • Science.  A slightly higher percentage of females (34 percent) scored in the Strong or Distinguished Command levels compared to males (33 percent) in fifth-grade.  Eighth-grade females also scored slightly higher than males (33 percent to 32 percent).
  • Social Studies.  A higher percentage of females scored in the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels in both fourth-grade (18 percent females to 16 percent males) and seventh-grade (19 percent females to 14 percent males).

Students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

  • The percentage of students who scored in the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels was lower for students with IEPs than for students without IEPs across all grades and content areas. The gap between students with IEPs and students without IEPs on science was between 29 and 31 percentage points. In social studies for both fourth and seventh grades, the gap between these students was 16 percentage points.

Students Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch

  • The percentage of students who scored in the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels was lower for students eligible for free or reduced lunch than for students not eligible for free or reduced lunch across all grades and content areas. The gap between students eligible for free or reduced lunch and students not eligible for free or reduced lunch on science was between 28 and 32 percentage points. For social studies, the gap was between 19 and 20 percentage points.

Students Based on English Language Proficiency

  • The percentage of students who scored in the Strong or Distinguished Command performance levels was lower for students identified as non-English proficient/ limited English proficient (NEP/LEP) than for students for whom language proficiency was not applicable. The gap between students identified as NEP/LEP and students for whom language proficiency was not applicable on science was between 33 and 35 percentage points. For social studies, the gap was between 18 and 19 percentage points.

To view the complete CMAS results, including district results, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/assessment/cmas-sciencesocial-dataandresults

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