Manchester high school students outperformed the state and district factor group average on Language Arts standardized testing and came in ahead of their group in math testing during the 2011-12 school year.
The results of the High School Proficiency Assessment for that year were presented to township Board of Education members last week and showed a slight improvement in the percentage of students scoring "proficient" or above over those for the 2010-11 school year.
"I've got to tell you, the high school did a marvelous job," said Director of Curriculum Thomas Baxter of the language arts scores. "We surpassed the district factor group and the state in every area. That hasn't happened in a long time. The high school blew them out of the water."
Manchester's total for language arts was 93.5 percent proficient or higher, ahead of the DFG's 86.9 and the state's 91.5 marks. The special education results in Manchester were among the lowest at 70.7, though that was still ahead of DFG and state marks and an improvement over the 56.2 mark in 2010-11.
"Even to hit 70 is excellent," Baxter said.
(Editor's Note: See attached PDF for the data presented by the district.)
Math scores for Manchester high school students surpassed the DFG in all categories in math testing, though they came in slightly behind the state average in most areas, except for among African Americans and the economically disadvantaged.
"We made excellent gains throughout," Baxter said.
Students in grade three in all elementary schools surpassed the state and DFG average in math and language arts in 2012, compared to in 2010 when Manchester lagged behind both groups.
"Our literacy initiatives are really starting to work," Baxter said. This includes programs implemented when the tested students were in kindergarten through second grade like guided reading, Daily 5 and Developmental Reading Assessment.
"The board and administrators initiative some of those programs, we felt it was best to put it on the early level," said Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway. "We've seen some fruits of that."
"By the time the third year came, we made dramatic changes," Baxter said. "A lot of those initiatives are really starting to work."
Baxter said that the increase in language proficiency is likely why students are excelling in other areas.
"When you read, you're going to get better in a lot of things. You're going to get better at math, you're going to get better at science and history," he said.
Baxter tracked the progress of students beginning in grade 3 through 5 attending all township elementary schools. The data showed mostly growth among those students and in 2012 they did better than the state and DFG in math and language arts. In some cases they remained about stable and in others showing gains in proficiency.
Student progressed tracked from grades 6 through 8 were ahead of their DFG but lagged slightly behind the state in language arts in 2012; however, those students' math scores were ahead of both the state and DFG, as they have been for the past two years.
More programs and available funds should help educators continue the proficiency gains made by students, according to Baxter.
"We have a lot of really positive, good things happening," he said. "We're excited about the scores, as they're going up. There are areas we need to work on and we're going to do that."
Educators and the board also spoke about getting raising student achievement so that they can leave basic skills programs, something that Baxter said still needs improvement.