Weekly Letter (Nov 2 ’15)

Dear Parents and Students,

Last week the IOWA Test results were delivered and as is my practice I spent several hours reviewing them. It is important to consider these scores from a few different perspectives. The first and easiest is to look at the school as a whole. Please take a moment to look at the four graphs attached to this letter. They represent Star of the Sea School IOWA Test scores for the last fourteen years. Reading scores are up for the third straight year and our average beats 75% of the schools in the nation. Language Arts scores have also gone up for three years and if you look at the last six years you will see tremendous growth. This year our score in Language Arts beats 83% of schools nationally. Math scores are up for the third consecutive year tying a school high over the last fourteen years. In math we beat 75% of schools across the nation. Star’s Composite score dropped slightly but we still beat 77% of schools nationally and this is our third highest score in fourteen years!

The next way I study the IOWA results is by class. Each class made the expected progress but one group really stood out by improving 12 points as a class. But the most amazing improvement came from our Resource students. The Archdiocese and WCEA strongly encourage us to carefully track the progress of Resource students to determine the effectiveness of the program. In part, this is done because if these students can improve their learning skills the entire class can move through the curriculum faster. Last year we had 52 sub tests that were in the lowest quartile. In checking those test scores for those same students this year 41 scores were higher, 7 were lower and 4 were the same. The average score on those 52 tests was 23 points higher than last year!

Finally, I look at each individual students’ IOWA scores. I track their scores in Reading, Language Arts, Math and Composite from 2nd through 8th grade. If you don’t mind my sloppy handwriting, your child’s teacher can give you a copy of this at Conference time. You will get your child’s current scores at Parent Teacher Conferences next week. The Conference schedule is attached. Please keep two very important facts in mind regarding these tests:

The scores are not percents (75% is a C in the archdiocese), they are percentiles (75th percentile means you outscored 75% of kids who took this test across the nation).

These scores are just snapshots. They measure potential. A report card is a far more valid appraisal of a student’s ability. Unfortunately many Catholic and private high schools (and Lowell) use the 7th and 8th grade scores as part of their acceptance criteria.

God Bless,


Terrence Hanley


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