August 23, 2013
Dear SLLIS families,
Today the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its annual data regarding student achievement on the state’s MAP exams administered this past April — and the results for SLLIS’ students are cause for both celebration and continued diligence toward the fulfillment of SLLIS’ mission. Through this letter, and via our Academic Achievement page on the SLLIS website, we hope to share key information about our academic successes and remaining challenges.
Although we have only two years of test data for TFS and TSS [note: MAP testing begins at 3rd grade, so there are no MAP scores yet for TCS], our MAP test results are already confirming that our students’ proficiency scores in communication arts are indeed tracking with the initial, rigorous goals we established when we founded SLLIS – goals which were informed by what research shows about student performance in full language immersion programs both nationally and internationally.
Specifically, the new data show that the percent of current SLLIS 5th grade students who tested at the “proficient” or “advanced” levels on the MAP exam has already increased to 48% overall (56% in TFS, and 43% in TSS; see charts below). This represents an annual increase of nearly 19% in TSS, and 30% in TFS. This level of dramatic growth in the later elementary school years mirrors that seen in other high-achieving language immersion schools in the U.S. and internationally, and we are hoping that trend continues.
Not surprisingly, the MAP test results also demonstrate that our current 4th grade students evidence the typical lag behind their 5th grade counterparts. SLLIS-wide, the percent of current 4th graders who tested at the “proficient” or “advanced” level on the communication arts exam is at 24% — which tracks consistently with the previous year’s 25% percent of 4th graders at that level.
SLLIS student performance on the MAP mathematics exam, however, has not matched that on the communication arts exam. In TFS, the percent of current 5th graders who tested at the “proficient” or “advanced” level increased by 11% from the previous year, which is encouraging. But that brought the percent of that class testing at or above grade level only up to 38%, short of our expectations. And in TSS, the percent of students testing at that level actually dropped by 11% — an anomalous score in light of the other gains evidenced by the current 5th grade class SLLIS-wide.
Math MAP scores for our current 4th graders, as with communication arts, also lag behind those of the current 5th graders. SLLIS-wide, the percent of all current 4th graders who tested at “proficient” or above in 2013 was 23%.
Accordingly, our instructional teams in both TFS and TSS are already deeply engaged in a review of the newly-released MAP data. They are also comparing the data with NWEA and other school-based assessment results on a student-by-student basis to understand both our students’ and teachers’ successes and challenges, and to identify individualized strategies for increased student growth in the coming years. We have mailed individual MAP score data to all families of students who tested with SLLIS in Spring 2013. The mailing includes the scores, how to interpret them, and how they complement the host of teaching and assessment work of your child’s teachers.
One of our strategies to promote and maintain significant student achievement growth throughout the curriculum involves implementing research-based programming for SLLIS’ Book Club. This year SLLIS is pleased to announce that we are contracting with Sylvan Learning Centers for all Book Club programming. Three hundred students – roughly one-third of our entire school population – will, based on academic need, be selected to participate in Book Club this year and receive small group instruction in reading and math in English. All parents will receive further information about whether their child has been selected to receive these services. For those who do not meet our highest need criteria, Sylvan will also provide on-campus, fee-based tutoring options.
We are proud of the gains our students have made over the past year, and we recognize the challenges we face in the year ahead. And we are excited that the SLLIS-wide data analysis now underway will help move all of our students from good to great.
Rhonda Broussard Steve Sanchez
President Chair, Board of Directors