The eyes of the greater Rochester education community were on Discovery Charter School and other local schools, when New York State recently released new standardized test scores based on the curriculum called the Common Core. The tests cover Math and English Language Arts (ELA) for grades three to eight, with students’ raw scores translated to a scale of 1-4, with 3 or 4 indicating proficiency.
The biggest questions: how would students do on what some say are more challenging tests? And, would DCS third and fourth graders fare better than their counterparts in districts like the Rochester City School District, which, for many, is their home district.
For Discovery, which is just entering its fourth academic year in existence, the most pride is felt in the dramatic improvement year-to-year in the percent of students passing the tests. For ELA, there was a more than 500% increase in the passing rate of DCS’s first cohort (2 to 13%) and a 400% improvement when comparing last year’s third grade to this year’s third grade.
For Math, DCS’s first cohort saw a 400% increase in passing rate (2 to 11%) and the same level of improvement when comparing year 2 third grade to year 3 third grade.
School leader Joe Saia, while ecstatic about the improvement, isn’t stopping his quest for passing levels which are moving much higher every year. “The movement which was made—that was the most exciting,” said Saia. “Are we satisfied? Of course not—we have much work to do to get to overall passing levels to bring all of our children to success, however, I am proud that the majority of students made no less than one year’s worth of progress by moving to the next proficiency level and those are good signs,” said Saia.
DCS students did better than their counterparts in the Rochester City School District, as a whole. But, perhaps the most compelling statistic comes in another comparison. There are 528 elementary schools in New York State which have a similar student profile to Discovery. In terms of overall improvement from one year to the next, Discovery was ranked 12th in the state. For a still relatively young school, that could very well become a predictor of future DCS student success, and helps to set a higher standard for improvement going forward.
“What stands out for us at DCS, is how we are changing our students’ lives over a period of 12 months,” said David Vigren, chairman of the DCS Board of Trustees. “That is truly making a difference, and that is why this school was founded.”