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# Alabama makes modest gains on state standardized tests

## The gains and stagnation in the ACAP scores are similar to last year’s NAEP results

The Alabama State Board of Education during its regular meeting on February 9, 2023. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

The spring scores on Alabama’s main standardized test appear to have generally slight increases, according to preliminary data presented to the Alabama State Board of Education on Tuesday.

Scores remained similar to spring 2022 scores on the summative test, which most students take.

The ACAP is Alabama’s standardized test, taken multiple times throughout a student’s school career. The scores are broken down to four levels, with levels three and four as being “proficient.”

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Most of the scores remained similar year over year, with many modest gains in some subject areas.

Proficiency is higher than grade level, according to State Superintendent Eric Mackey speaking to reporters ahead of the work session.

“When we think about proficiency, those would be students you’d expect to make A’s, or A’s and B’s,” Mackey said.

Mackey said that the proficiency language is better aligned with the NAEP language, where proficiency means high-performing. Mackey has tried to align the ACAP with the NAEP during his tenure.

On the most recent NAEP test, “the nation’s report card,” Alabama went up in the rankings, due mainly to other states losing ground during the pandemic; Alabama’s scores remained steady.

Proficiency scores tend to go down as students age, which aligns with last year’s NAEP scores where Mackey said that middle grades were a level they needed to pay closer attention to.

Maggie Hicks, assessment director, said the data was new, and they are hoping to get deeper into the sub-populations of how students scored.

“I know that our instructional team will be looking at this and they’ll want to get down into not only the school’s district, but they also want to get into sub-pop[ulations]s to see how they can park it and really put the instruction where it’s needed,” she said.

#### Science

On the science summative test, fourth graders increased from 39% to 41% proficiency from spring 2022 to 2023. 15% of students were at Level One year to year. Level Two students decreased from 45% to 44%. Level Three grew from 29% to 30%. Level Four grew from 10% to 11%.

Sixth graders went from 28% to 30% proficient. Level One students decreased from 15% to 13%. Level Two remained steady at 57%. Level Three went from 21% to 23%. Level Four remained steady at 7%.

Eighth graders from 40% to 41%. Level One grew from 13% to 15%. Level Two went from 47% to 44%. Level Three went from 34% to 35%. Level Four decreased from 7% to 6%.

#### Math

On the math summative test, 48% of fourth graders were proficient, an increase from 44% in 2022. Level One decreased from 28% to 23%. Level Two increased from 28% to 30% and Level Three went from 28% to 32%. Level Four decreased from 17% to 16%.

Third graders went from 40% to 44% proficient. Level One decreased from 27% to 24%. Level Two decreased 33% to 32%. Level Three went from 29% to 31%. Level Four went from 11% to 13%.

In fourth grade, proficiency grew from 32% to 35%. Level One went from 26% to 22% and Level Two went from 42% to 43%. Level Three went from 22% to 23% and Level Four went from 9% to 12%.

Fifth graders went from from 32% to 35% proficient. Level One went from 26% to 23% and Level Two remained steady at 43%. Level Three grew from 23% to 26% and Level Four remained steady at 9%.

Sixth graders went from 29% to 31% proficient. Level One decreased from 25% to 20% and Level Two grew from 46% to 49%. Level Three went from 22% to 21%. Level Four grew from 7% to 10%.

Seventh graders are 21% proficient, up from 18%. Level One decreased from 39% to 37%, and Level Two remained steady at 42%. Level Three went from 15% to 17%, and Level Four went from 3% to 4%.

In eighth grade, proficiency grew from 18% to 21%. Level One went from 25% to 27%, and Level Two went from 56% to 51%. Level Three went from 15% to 17% and Level Four remained steady at 4%.

Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics which administers the NAEP, had called attention to the lowering scores on the NAEP test on a call with reporters last fall. She said it was a subject that had benefited from in-person instruction.

Before the work session, Mackey said that math scores were a problem across the country. He said that it seems stagnant in middle grades, where algebra is introduced to students.

“It’s not just Alabama,” he said. “The whole country is struggling with getting kids really thinking in an algebraic way.”

#### English Language Arts

In English Language Arts, second graders’ proficiency went from 49% to 54%. Level One decreased from 19% to 17% and Level Two decreased from 32% to 30%. Level Three decreased from 37% to 33%, and Level Four increased from 12% to 21%.

Third graders went from 55% to 54% proficient. Level One increased from 9% to 14%, and Level Two went from 36% to 32%. Level Three decreased from 41% to 37%, and Level Four went from 13% to 17%.

Fourth graders went from 53% to 54% proficient. Level One from 11% to 19%, and Level Two decreased from 36% to 26%. Level Three decreased from 41% to 35%, and Level Four increased from 13% to 19%.

Fifth graders went from 47% to 56%. Level One went from 10% to 20%, and Level Two went from 43% to 24%. Level Three went from 39% to 34%, and Level Four went from 8% to 22%.

Sixth graders went from 48% to 51%. Level One went from 14% to 16%, and Level Two went from 38% to 33%. Level Three went from 41% to 29%, and Level Four went from 7% to 22%.

Seventh graders went from 45% to 50%. Level One went from 15% to 19%, and Level Two went from 40% to 32%. Level Three went from 40% to 25%, and Level Four went from 4% to 25%.

Eighth graders decreased from 53% to 50% proficient. Level One went from 9% to 15%, and Level Two went from 38% to 35%. Level Three went from 41% to 28%, and Level Four went from 13% to 22%.

Ahead of the work session, Mackey said he was excited about the gains in ELA to reporters.

“We saw significant growth in most grades,” he said.

#### ACT

Data on the ACT with Writing was also released. The average ACT composite score is 17.4 in 2022-23, which increased from 17.3 the previous year. In 2020-21, the average score was 17.2.

On the ELA portion, students went from 29% to 30% on Levels Three and Four. Level One went from 38% to 36%, and Level Two went from 33% to 34%. Level Three stayed at 17%, and Level Four went from 12% to 13%.

On the math portion, students went from 23% to 25%. Level One went from 48% to 46%, and Level Two went from 29% to 30%. Level Three stayed at 16%, and Level Four went from 8% to 9%.

On the science portion, students went from 31% to 33% proficient. Level One went from 39% to 37%. Level Two went from 30% to 31%. Level Three went 25% to 26%, and Level Four went from 6% to 7%.

The department plans to release the score data to the public on July 31.

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