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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Excel in Proficiency Tests

School officials presented the findings at the school board meeting Thursday night at East Chapel Hill High School.

This was the first year the system compiled a separate report on proficiency not only after the traditional May testing, but also after two possible retests.

The district also collected information on the VoCATS, vocational assessment tests, and a separate report on kindergarten through second grade.

Diane Villwock, director of testing and program evaluation for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, said that 4,714 students were tested districtwide and that 92.2 percent of all students passed the tests the first time.

She said those who earned proficiency had to pass both the reading and mathematics end-of-course tests.

Villwock said that if students fail the first exam, they must take a retest the following week, with no teacher supplementation between the two tests.

"There's no intervention," she said. "They're literally back-to-back."

If students do not pass the first two chances at the end-of-grade tests, they must attend summer school, she said.

She said about 97 percent of students eventually earned proficiency for the last academic year.

Of black students, 85.6 percent reached proficiency status, along with 88.8 percent of Latino students, 99.2 percent of Asian students and 98.6 percent of white students.

Superintendent Neil Pedersen plainly acknowledged the labor that went into the testing as a whole.

"This is an extremely complicated process," Pedersen said.

He said information on VoCATS will give educators and administration a clearer picture on those students who want to pursue more trade and labor-oriented professions.

"What we've wanted to do is ... provide a more complete picture," he said.

He added that the district wanted to pay closer attention to kindergarten, first and second grades to make sure these students are covered because third grade levels tend to be the lowest.

School board member Nick Didow reinforced the importance of continuing to stress these grade levels.

"Where this district ... needed to improve its effectiveness was in the (K-3 grade level)," he said.

Board Vice Chairwoman Gloria Faley said the data presented a concise yet detailed look at the areas that need to be addressed for the district to continue reducing the minority achievement gap.

"We've reduced the gap. Now we're saying the gap should not be there anymore, period," Faley said. "We're not hiding anything from anybody."

While she was impressed with the findings, board member Maryanne Rosenman said she still wants to see minority proficiency improved.

"We'd like to see all of our schools be schools of excellence."

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