KUSD director watching Terra Nova closely

KINGMAN ­ Terra Nova has replaced Stanford-9 as the nationally norm-referenced test for children in grades two through nine and Daryl Heinitz, director of assessment for the Kingman Unified School District, has some reservations on how much reliable information may be gleaned from it.

"Second- and ninth-grade results are purely Terra Nova," Heinitz said. "It is put together pretty much the way Stanford-9 was, so I am fairly confident it equates to Stanford-9.

"In grades three through eight I am not as confident since those kids took separate AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards) and Stanford-9 tests last year. This year they took a Dual Purpose AIMS test with AIMS and Terra Nova questions mixed together, which means students did not answer nearly as many questions that were nationally norm-referenced."

A different company produced the Terra Nova test from the one that produced Stanford-9 in past years.

Heinitz said a study of the two tests is being done to determine how much progress children made in the tested subject areas of math, language and reading.

"Stanford-9 was normed to a group from 1995, so every year we could compare results to kids that took it that year," he said. "Terra Nova is normed to a group of students in 2000, so there is going to be some variation in there if there is a rise or fall in that group of students that will be reflected."

The accompanying graphs on pages 1B-3B show KUSD numbers for school and grade as supplied by the Arizona Department of Education. They include students in category one, which is regular education only.

The DOE did not include category two numbers, which lists English as second language and special education students for the KUSD. Heinitz said there are 200-300 pupils in that category.

A percentile rating is given for comparison purposes.

For example, pupils scoring at the 38th percentile level were surpassed nationally by 62 percent of their peers at that grade level and in that subject. Children scoring in the 55th percentile level were topped by just 45 percent of their peers, etc.

Children from Manzanita and Hualapai elementary schools generally posted the best scores, as they have in recent years on Stanford-9.

Second-graders at La Senita got off to a good start in testing with scores of 46 in reading and language, and 53 in math.

Second-graders at Palo Christi did even better. They posted marks of 51 in reading and math, and 48 in language.

Mt. Tipton pupils did not fare as well as the rest of the district.

"Mt. Tipton has struggled in reading in many areas and in math specifically at the high school level," Heinitz said. "But what they have done this year in their high school produced pretty significant improvement when you look at the AIMS scores.

"Even though they were below the district average, it was the first time we had any of those students meet the standards, so that's considerable improvement."

Ninth-grade instruction in all subject areas will be a priority this year, he said. The goal is to have more sophomores pass AIMS, which becomes a graduation requirement in 2006.

"Our higher grades need to recover some momentum they lost from the previous year," Heinitz said. "If we can get the lower grades at the 50th percentile or better, we will not have that problem in the future."