After determining that the Reading Comprehension subtest revealed an outcome that was inconsistent with expectations, Saint Margaret's Episcopal School interrogated the data in a variety of ways to determine what was causing the cohort results.
Because the school admits 30 new students in Grade 6 each year, they began by analyzing results based on the separation of veteran students and new students. They thought there might be a possibility that new Grade 6 students perform differently than students within the program previously, however, they determined that there was no consistent performance pattern in this analysis.
They then analyzed the mastery of each content strand in the subtest to see if there was an area of relative weakness within one of the Reading Comprehension content strands (Explicit Information, Inference, and Analysis) that was impacting the total cohort assessments. Again, they did not find any evidence to support this hypothesis.
Lastly, the school tracked students by their Grade 5 performance quartile to determine whether each group of students grew or lost ground at a similar rate, year by year. In this case, the hypothesis was that a small group of students may not be growing at the anticipated rate, and as a result, were impacting the growth rate for the entire grade level cohort. This hypothesis proved true over several cohorts of students. Through analysis, the school identified that students in the top and second quartiles were not growing at the expected rate. Conversely, students in the third and bottom quartiles were growing, but their growth was not readily conveyed when displayed in aggregate along with those at the highest performance levels from the year prior. Because they recognized that Reading Comprehension is not solely the responsibility of English teachers, but rather the focus of every teacher seeking to develop their students’ abilities to process and understand the meaning of written texts, they shared this data with all Middle School faculty to determine next steps.