New adequate yearly progress reports are out for Vermont schools.
"Very pleased with the gains that we have made at both the middle school and even more so at the high school," said John Barone, the superintendent of schools in Milton.
Barone is finding reason to celebrate; the high school met AYP standards for reading. And while it did not meet the mark in math, the longtime educator says the district is seeing progress.
"Remember at the high school level 11th-graders are assessed at the beginning of their 11th-grade year and they are assessed on their math from their eighth-grade year, their ninth-grade year and their 10th-grade year. That's a lot of content and the possibility for a lot of regression during that period," Barone said.
It's one of many challenges Barone says school districts across the state are facing.
Findings released Tuesday show just 81 schools in Vermont made adequate yearly progress in both reading and math; 214 schools did not, for a success rate of just 27 percent.
"Standards every year are being ratcheted up and every year more and more kids are required to reach a higher standard," Vt. Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca said.
Vilaseca admits schools can do more to improve, but says the results can also be deceiving.
"The challenge is you can have an increase in your scores, but because the target has gone up it becomes almost like a moving end line to catch," Vilaseca said.
And that end line will change entirely by 2015 as Vermont replaces its current NECAP student assessments with the Smarter Balance Assessment, a model Vilaseca says will do a better job assessing Vermont students and schools.
"Our current standards are sort of fixed; you either meet it or you don't. The new SBAC we are moving to will be able to show individual growth," Vilaseca said.
Barone agrees but cautions those who think scores will rise quickly. He says progress with the new model could take 3-5 years.
"The release questions that I have seen about the SBAC are not just about getting the right answer, what I am really excited about is the level to which students are going to have to explain their thinking," Barone said.