Palo Christi kids shine on Terra Nova

Anyone looking at figures of 61-51-57 probably would say that person should go on a diet.

However, officials with the Kingman Unified School District are ecstatic with those numbers. They are percentile rankings in reading, math and language, respectively, for second-graders at Palo Christi Elementary School who took the spring administration of the Terra Nova test.

The scores were the highest in each subject among second-graders in the district.

"A program called Walk to Read has much to do with it," Assistant Superintendent Betsy Parker said. "Palo Christi is a small school and every employee there is involved in the program in which students walk to different places by group and read every morning as a school.

"There also has been almost no teacher turnover at the school in the past two years, so that makes for a strong group of people that know the needs of students."

Terra Nova is a norm-referenced test given nationwide to second- and ninth-graders. A dual-purpose assessment of Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test in which "embedded" questions are scored permits students in grades 3-8 to receive a Terra Nova score.

Scores are given as percentiles. The 61 in reading among second-graders at Palo Christi means only 39 percent of other second-graders nationwide scored higher in that subject.

There were no scores as high as 50 district wide in reading and language among third-graders. In math, only third-graders at Hualapai and Manzanita scored at that percentile.

However, that is not especially troubling to Parker.

"It's a big transition for third-graders, who are taking AIMS for the first time," she said. "It sets the bar for us, so we know where we need to work with those kids.

"It also should be noted that the language component (for Terra Nova) does not have a writing prompt, so it's even harder to know how third-graders are doing without writing."

Reading and language scores among students in grades 6-9 were unremarkable with some at 50 or slightly above in the percentiles.

The district will continue basing information on student achievement and areas for improvement from the AIMS test, as it provides more data on how students are doing related to standards, Parker said.

"We're going to work harder to get the scores up, but our focus remains on (Annual Yearly Progress) and AIMS measures that," she said. "Our primary goal is to meet AYP and you determine that with a performance-based test rather than a norm-referenced test."

Fourth-graders at Manzanita posted the highest math score with 64.

Math is emphasized in grades 6-12 because it gives students a firm foundation, and in turn, should lead to higher scores in other subject areas as children grow older, she said.

There are 10 schools in the KUSD, which is too many for a school-by-school and grade-by-grade breakdown of percentile scores. Here are district wide averages:

Language - 46 for second grade; 40 in third grade, 48 for fourth grade, 46 in fifth grade, 40 for sixth grade, 48 in seventh grade, 48 for eighth grade, and 46 in ninth grade.

Reading - 46 in second grade, 38 for third grade, 44 in fourth grade, 48 for fifth grade, 48 in sixth grade, 44 for seventh grade, 48 in eighth grade, and 50 for ninth grade.

Math - 44 for second grade, 42 in third grade, 50 for fourth grade, 40 in fifth grade, 40 for sixth grade, 42 in seventh grade, 46 for eighth grade, and 48 in ninth grade.