Fulton School District State Testing Participation On The Rise

FULTON, NY – After completion of all New York State assessments on Mathematics and English Language Arts, district officials in Fulton have an estimated outcome of participation rates throughout the district before the official rates are established with the NYS Education Department database.

The assessments are given to students in grades third through eighth and the district continues to strive to reach a goal participation rate of 95 percent.

Currently, the district overall estimates 93 percent student participation in both ELA and math assessments.

These rates have increased significantly from last year with ELA participation growing 12 percent from last year’s 81 percent participation rate and math participation rising 16 percent from last year’s 77 percent participation rate.

Each of the four elementary schools in the district tested more than 90 percent of their students in both ELA and math assessments.

Granby Elementary marked the highest participation rates among all schools, testing 97 percent of their students in ELA at a count of 251 students opted-in to 8 students opted-out, and testing 98 percent of students in math at a count of 255 students opted-in to 6 students opted-out.

The remaining elementary schools followed close behind as Lanigan’s participation rates reached 96 percent in ELA and 97 percent in math, Volney Elementary reached 95 percent in both ELA and math participation, and Fairgrieve participation rates reached 94 percent for both ELA and math.

The Fulton Junior High School large increases in participation of both state assessments with 481 students in seventh and eighth grade opting-in to ELA state testing and 53 students opting-out, leaving the school with an overall 90 percent ELA participation rate, a 19 percent increase from last year.

Similarly for math results, an 89 percent participation rate was driven from 474 students opting-in to the math assessment and 60 students opting-out at the Fulton Junior High School, a 31 percent increase from last year.

“There was really strong efforts by the students, teachers, and administrators to turn the tide,” said Director of Instruction Support Services, Dan Carroll. “The Junior High did a very impressive job of changing that culture of participating.”

Students in BOCES special education programs participated at a rate of 43 percent with 3 students opting-in and 4 students opting-out of ELA testing. In contrast, math participation rates reached 57% as 4 students opted-in and 3 students opted-out.

Carroll accredited the district’s participation increase in part to the “It’s A Win, Opt-In” campaign.

Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment, Elizabeth Conners said the Opt-In campaign allowed families the opportunity to attend lunch-and-learn programs and family sessions at the Education Center as well as utilizing a video series to educate parents on better understanding the state assessments.

“It was more just to educate people so they could make an informed decision. We weren’t saying anything was right or wrong but I want people to make informed decisions,” Conners said.

However, district officials stressed the importance behind opting-in for data and student success purposes.

“It’s an important data point for our district,” Carroll said. “This one assessment can be used to look at our students in comparison to the whole state. It gives us an opportunity to evaluate our instructional efforts. It helps us to get outside of Fulton, but it also helps us to plan for the next school year as well,” Carroll said.

“It gives us a chance to track their progress from third through eighth and on into high school, and it is a predictor of how they will do in high school. The other thing is, when you see a growth score on a student, it’s compared to kids who are like kids across the state, kids who have the same demographics. So, that gives us a better chance to consider how we need to tailor our program. For me, it’s about really learning about our students so that we can provide them with a strong education because that’s ultimately our goal, to watch all of our kids grow,” Conners said.

Additionally, the assessment participation rate plays a large role in the district’s accountability designations. Carroll made note of several grade levels and subgroups where school buildings or the district overall didn’t make adequate yearly progress because they didn’t meet participation rate requirements in recent years.

District officials believe another contributing factor to increased participation rates was the opportunity for two grade levels to take the state assessments electronically.

All students in third grade and seventh grade were administered the test via the computer. Ultimately, district officials believe this encouraged participation as third grade levels at all elementary schools ranked nearly 100 percent participation, Carroll said.

The district intends to offer the same groups of students computerized testing again next year while also phasing in the next incoming years.

Next year, third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades will have the opportunity for electronic testing, while the following year the opportunity will expand to all grade levels third through eighth.

“We’ll keep striving away for that 95 percent,” said FCSD Superintendent, Brian Pulvino.