The results of the Fall 2011 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) for grades three through eight and high school were released today by the New Hampshire Department of Education. Commissioner Virginia Barry was pleased to note that New Hampshire schools continue to make progress in helping students meet the state’s challenging standards in reading, mathematics, and writing. This is the seventh year that New Hampshire’s third through eighth grade students have taken the NECAP and the fifth year the NECAP test has been administered at the high school level. Statewide in mathematics, performance in every grade matched or exceeded the best historical results, with sixty-seven percent of all students across grades third through eighth and eleventh demonstrating proficiency in mathematics (up two percentage points from last year). Reading performance in every grade except fifth matched or exceeded the best historical performance, with seventy-nine percent of all students across grades third through eighth and eleventh demonstrating proficiency (up two percentage points from last year). Writing results at grades five, eight and eleven decreased one percentage point from last year to fifty-four percent of all students across the three grades demonstrating proficiency.
“New Hampshire has made substantial progress across the content areas in the last seven years,” Commissioner Barry stated. “Approximately ten percent more students at each grade and in each content area are achieving the grade-level standards than were at the beginning of the NECAP assessment program. Our schools and teachers deserve recognition and our appreciation for their hard work and dedication which has resulted in these impressive gains.”
The results provide a comprehensive view of performance in mathematics, reading, and writing based on the New Hampshire Grade-Level Expectations. The NH academic standards are embedded in the New Hampshire Curriculum Frameworks for Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. The NECAP results provide the opportunity for districts, schools, and the Department to examine how effective we are in helping students achieve these standards.
The Department is working to transform New Hampshire’s educational system by working with schools and districts to address four broad areas: Standards and Assessments, Effective Teachers and Leaders, Data Systems, and Turnaround of Struggling Schools. “NECAP results, together with results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), are a critical tool in assessing the effectiveness of these reforms,” stated Commissioner Barry. Commissioner Barry added, “While we are particularly pleased with the significant improvement in grade seven and grade eight mathematics, we are still concerned that between third grade and eighth grade the percent of students proficient drops from seventy-six percent to sixty-eight percent. While our third graders scores are top among the NECAP states, by grade eight the mathematics scores are similar to our neighbors. NAEP results have documented this relative decline as well.”
"Prior to these results the Commissioner and the State Board identified mathematics as an area of focus,” stated Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather. For the past six months Deputy Commissioner Leather led The New Hampshire State Task Force on Mathematics Instruction, which presented its final report to the State Board of Education on January 18. Deputy Commissioner Leather went on to say, “Included in the report was support for the Department’s efforts to create an advanced credential for Elementary Mathematics Specialist. Recommendations for this new teaching credential will be presented to the Professional Standards Board by the end of the year. Once the credential has been approved, we will be looking to partner with our colleges and universities to offer this opportunity to our teachers. Commissioner Barry stated, “Ultimately, it is the interaction between the teacher and his or her students that matters. We know that close to sixty percent of the students who score below proficient in mathematics on the grade three NECAP test are likely to still be below proficient when they reach grade eight. Parents and Teachers need to work together to meet the needs of these students. We encourage schools to carefully review their current teaching methodologies and focus on intentional teaching directed at individual student needs particularly in the area of mathematical rigor.“
Local Trends: Over the next few weeks, schools and districts will be examining their own data and paying particular attention to the growth of individual students and groups of students. Administrators, local school improvement teams, and teachers will also use these results to measure the effectiveness of program changes and instructional strategies they have implemented in recent years.
There are four achievement levels of student performance on the NECAP tests. These levels describe a student's proficiency on the content and skills taught in the previous grade. Performance at Proficient (level 3) or Proficient with Distinction (level 4) indicates that the student has a level of proficiency necessary to begin working successfully on current grade content and skills. Performance at Partially Proficient (level 2) or Substantially Below Proficient (level 1) suggests that additional instruction and student practice is needed on the previous grade's content and skills.
NECAP is a collaborative partnership among New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine established in response to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which requires that all states annually measure achievement of students in grades three through eight, and in one high school grade.
Commissioner Barry offered the reminder that while the NECAP is an important measure of academic progress, it is only one of many ways that schools measure the progress of our students. In evaluating the success of students and schools, it is essential that parents, educators, and community leaders consider multiple forms of assessment, such as: community involvement, attendance, graduation rates, numbers of students pursuing further education after high school, school safety issues, discipline records, and other relevant information.
All public NECAP reports for schools, districts, and the state, as well as The Guide to Interpreting the 2011 NECAP Reports can be located at http://reporting.measuredprogress.org/nhprofile/. Additional resources, information, and comparative graphs and charts can be found at www.education.nh.gov/instruction/assessment/necap/index.htm.
Erratum: Summative Assessment results for the two categories: “Two or more races” and “No Race/Ethnicity Reported” have been incorrectly swapped in PDF reports for schools, districts, and the state that include these demographic data. Excel files that contain these data are correct. Corrected PDF files will be posted later in February.