TAHS test scores spark discussion

This graph shows Tracy Area High School math and reading scores.

By Per Peterson

Why aren’t test scores at Tracy Area High School better than they have been?

That was the question of the hour at Monday night’s District 2904 School Board meeting after TAHS Principal Kathy Vondracek broke down the school’s most recent MCA test results.

TAHS came in below the state average in math at 41.87% compared to 47.54% state, and above the statewide average in reading (56.88% to 49.67%)

A closer look that compares scores by grade from year to year, showed some decreases (science for the class of 2020 and reading for the class of 2023) and a number of increases, including big jumps in reading for last year’s juniors, reading and math for last year’s freshmen and math for last year’s eighth graders.

But where does that leave the school, questioned Board Chairman Rod Benson, who asked if they can find out where the school’s weaknesses lie. And in a reaction to the ambiguity resulting from the statewide testing, Benson questioned if the school was in the middle third, the bottom third or the top third of state scores.

“It’s the same story for the last 15 years,” he said. “It’s the same … we’re average, for the last 15 years — right above or right below. Why settle for that? And I hear, ‘We’re not settling, we’re gonna improve.’”

“It’s frustrating for us, too,” replied Vondracek.

Vondracek detailed reading, math and available science scores from class to class at Monday’s meeting.

“This year’s seniors went from 37.1% as seventh-graders to 61.3% in 10th grade — that was a nice jump,” she said. “In math, there were no increases; they went down in math almost every year. They were pretty consistent in science.”

For this year’s juniors (Class of 2020), there was an increase every year in reading form 34% in grade 7 to 66% in grade 10, a small increase in math and what Vondracek called a surprising 5% decrease in science.

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.