Though the Christina School District remains among the lowest in proficiency in math and English/language arts, the district is making gains, including having a school spotlighted for its consistent growth, according to statewide assessment results released last week.
Statewide, students in grades three to eight were tested in English/language arts and mathematics. High school students were assessed through the SAT.
Looking at the district as a whole, Christina saw a modest increase of 4 percentage points since 2015 in ELA for students in grades three to eight, but it remains among the lowest districts in proficiency and falls under the state average of 53 percent.
In math, Christina’s proficiency increased by 7 percentage points over four years to 37 percent proficient, hovering just below the statewide average of 44 percent.
In the SAT, Christina’s three high schools varied between the period of 2017 to 2019. Christiana saw an overall increase in English, math and essay writing.
Newark and Glasgow High schools took hits in each of the three categories, but each were either higher than, or on par with, about six other high schools in the state.
In one bright spot for Christina, state officials spotlighted Wilson Elementary School for its consistent growth in English/language arts and math for students.
At the school north of Newark, 72 percent of students are proficient in ELA, up from 49 percent in 2015. In math, 73 percent of students are proficient, compared to 52 percent in 2015.
“I’m so proud of the work we do here. It’s nice to get the recognition. We work very hard here and we’re dedicated to each individual student doing the best they can,” Wilson Principal Natalie Birch said. “When it culminates in a score or scores that show our work is meaningful and making a difference, it just makes us very proud.”
She noted that at Wilson, the educators are very “student-focused.”
“Not just on the core subjects, but also the personal and social-emotional growth of each student, and really just looking at them as individuals, and meeting them where they are and growing them,” she continued. “That’s just our culture, and it has been.”
Wilson has also seen growth in its various student populations, including English language learners, students from low-income households and students with disabilities.
Birch attributes those results to the school’s success planning, where staff members come together over the summer to look at data and reflect on the past year to determine what went well and what didn’t work.
She noted that it’s a team effort, with staff members representing different facets of student populations.
“At the end of the day, we agree to what is best for the students, not adults,” she said. “It’s a collaborative process where there’s buy-in with that. And I think that’s really important.”
Though Wilson is a highlight for the district, Birch acknowledged there is no one-size-fits-all approach for Christina’s schools.
She said that the administration is providing training to principals through the district’s Teaching and Learning Academy.
“We are looking at data, we are looking at instruction, we are looking at strategies and they are growing us, which in turn, helps me help my teachers,” she said. “Depending on the population you serve, and the different things like that, it can take longer. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Wilson, she added, has had its struggles in the past, too.
“There were years when, I’ll be honest, we were disappointed with our results, but we were doing great things,” she said. “So I think that we’ve got to be careful not to judge, and the scores aren’t the whole picture. It’s one piece. I know my colleagues are working very hard in their schools. I think ultimately, it’s going to pay off.”
Statewide, 53 percent of students in grades three to eight scored at the proficient level or higher this year in English/language arts, compared to 54 percent in 2018.
For mathematics, 44 percent were proficient, which match last year’s results. At the high school level, students remained on par with years’ past for the SAT.