More Boonville students scored proficient or higher on statewide math and language arts standardized tests than last year, but the district still has room to improve to reach the state average.

For the first time in years, annual performance reports for Missouri schools are measured on the same scale as the year before, allowing schools to see how they improved from last year. The Boonville R-1 School District showed significant improvement in both math and language arts, which Superintendent Sarah Marriott attributed to a focus on math and the hard work of students and teachers.

Boonville schools use the reports to compare themselves to other districts in the state and to see which areas need more attention, Marriott said. The district also tries to track how a grade level of students progresses over time, looking at this year’s fifth graders and comparing their scores to what they scored as fourth graders, Marriott said as an example. That’s not easy with the state changing standardized tests over the past several years, Marriott said.

“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for us to compare how we performed in prior years, because it’s a different assessment measure,” she said. “You’re really comparing apples to oranges at that point.”

This year, students were tested with the same standards used last year, allowing the district to make a direct comparison. The district’s goal is to see improvement from one year to the next, and that’s what they saw this year, as the percentages of students who scored proficient or higher on assessments grew in both math and language.

“We are just ecstatic over the progress that was demonstrated this past year,” Marriott said.

This year, 45.4 percent of students met state standards in language, compared to 43.2 percent last year. In math, 38.4 percent of students met standards in math, compared to 33 percent last year.

The district also made progress in subgroup achievement, the scores of students who are part of groups the state considers historically underperforming, including black and Hispanic students, students eligible for free and reduced lunch, students with disabilities and English language learners.

Those students still scored lower than the entire Boonville student population, but showed improvement in math and language arts. In math, 36.5 percent scored proficient or higher this year, compared to 30.9 last year. Their improvement in language was smaller, with 42.1 percent of those students scored proficient or higher, compared to 40.8 percent last year.

Despite the improvement, the results show that fewer than half of all students are meeting state standards in both math and language, and the district’s results were below the state average.

The Boonville district’s overall scores are brought down by the elementary and middle school scores. Higher percentages of Boonville High School students scored proficient or better than the state average.

“We aren’t going to achieve our end goal in one year, but certainly progress is good,” she said.

Boonville schools recognized a few years ago its need to improve in math, Marriott said. The district has added professional development for teachers, helping them learn new instructional methods and making sure the curriculum aligned with state standards, she said.

The district has also started new math programs, including a high school math lab class, a technical math class at the Boonslick Technical Education Center and additional math tutoring at the middle and high schools, Marriott said. Those have been key factors in helping 5.4 percent more of the district’s students meet or exceed state standards this year, she said.

“Certainly, everything can be attributed to our students and staff,” she said.

The district still has room to improve to meet state standards in math and language arts, but the state report included positive signs for Boonville graduates. In a follow-up survey of 2017 graduates, the percentages of Boonville graduates who were in two- or four-year post-secondary school programs exceeded state averages, at 29.1 and 40 percent. The percentage of those students who are employed was slightly lower than the state average as a result. Boonville also exceeded the state average with a 99 percent, four-year graduation rate.

New Franklin R-1 School District Superintendent Brian Cordel also said he was pleased with the growth his students showed this year. Almost 2 percent more students scored proficient or higher on the language test, but the district had a 4.4 percent decline in students reaching that standard in math.

More New Franklin Elementary students actually scored proficient on higher on their math exams, but an 8.4 percent drop for middle and high school students brought the district as a whole below the state average. In a district as small as New Franklin, the performance of just a few students can greatly skew results from year to year, Cordel said.

“Standardized student test scores can be unreliable enough as it is,” Cordel said. “Some of the tests change from year to year, as well as teaching methods and benchmarks.”

Cordel and Marriott both said they hoped there would be more consistency in the state assessments year to year, so the districts can better compare years and track their students’ progress.

How your school stacks up

The chart shows the percentage of students in the school or district who scored “proficient” or higher on the tests. They are ordered from highest to lowest based on 2019 results, and the 2019 state averages are provided for comparison. School-level information for Bunceton schools was not available.

English language arts

School/DISTRICT

2018 

2019 

Boonville High School

61.5

65.7

Prairie Home High School

57.1

64.3

Pilot Grove High School

50

59.6

New Franklin Elementary

53.7

54.7

NEW FRANKLIN R-1

50.2

52.1

PILOT GROVE

49.2

51.6

PRAIRIE HOME R-V

49.2

51.6

COOPER COUNTY R-4

49.2

51.6

New Franklin Middle/High School

47.8

50.3

STATE AVERAGE ELA

 

48.7

Pilot Grove Elementary

48.6

45.7

BOONVILLE R-1

43.2

45.4

David Barton Elementary

40.2

43.3

Blackwater Elementary

51.4

39.2

Laura Speed Elliott

39.4

38.8

Prairie Home Elementary

35.3

24

Math

School/DISTRICT

2018

2019

New Franklin Elementary

55.8

57.9

Boonville High School

46.1

50.4

Pilot Grove High School

33.9

49.2

Prairie Home High School

54.8

43.5

STATE AVERAGE MATH

 

41.9

NEW FRANKLIN R-1

45.5

41.1

PILOT GROVE

33.1

38.5

PRAIRIE HOME R-V

33.1

38.5

COOPER COUNTY R-4

33.1

38.5

BOONVILLE R-1

33

38.4

Blackwater Elementary

37.3

37.8

David Barton Elementary

34

37.7

Laura Speed Elliott

25.3

34.3

New Franklin Middle/High School

39.1

30.7

Pilot Grove Elementary

32.4

28.6

Prairie Home Elementary

29.4

24