A new data tool from the Vt. Agency of Education (AOE) shows that the Colchester School District is meeting overall performance standard in English and math, but gaps remain between poor students and those with disabilities, and their peers. The new data is part of the AOE’s recently published annual snapshot, an online tool that measures Vermont school districts, individual schools, and the state as a whole using five indicators: academic proficiency, personalization, school safety and health, high quality staffing, and investment priorities.

Currently, only the academic performance assessment is available. It is drawn from the scores of students in grades 3-9 who took the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) exams in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“This is a Vermont-centered approach to assessing school performance, using measures chosen by Vermonters,” said Secretary of Education Daniel M. French in a press release. “The snapshot will help communities understand how their schools are supporting achievement for all of their students.”

The snapshot measures students’ current performance and performance over time. It also measures the performance of students who have been “historically underserved” in their communities, and how these students’ progress compares to their more privileged peers—known as the Equity Index.

The Snapshot’s information will be released over three phases. The following two phases of release will come in September and in December of this year.

In English language arts and math, CSD meets performance standards, while science is marked as approaching the standard.

Under the Equity Index, however, the Snapshot shows the District as not meeting standards for underprivileged students in any of the three content areas.

On a measure of student performance over three years of standardized testing, the school is also meeting the standard for student improvement in English language arts and math. Data is not available for science.

However, the state also said that scores in all three subjects declined from the 2016-2017 school year to the 2017-2018 school year.

Colchester High School (CHS) meets the academic performance standards for students overall in English, is approaching it in math, and does not meet the standard in science. The school does not meet the standard under the Equity Index, meaning the gap between historically disadvantaged students and their peers is considered too large by the state.

This assessment is based on test scores of the school’s ninth graders.

Malletts Bay School met the standards for math and English and is approaching the standard in science, but shows a decline in performance in academic proficiency. It also does not meet the equity standard.

At Colchester Middle School, students are currently meeting the academic performance in English, and approaching the standard in science and math. The school does not meet the equity standard in any subject.

While Porters Point and Union Memorial School are included in the CSD, neither of these schools teach above second grade and therefore are not included in the snapshot.

As this is the first year data has been presented using the Annual Snapshot, much of the information around performance change will not be available until next year. This data quantifies information collected during the 2017-2018 school year and covers each public school in every Supervisory District and Union across the state.

Once more data is collected, the Annual Snapshot will also indicate what schools are eligible for Comprehensive and Equity Supports under the federal Every Student Needs Act (ESSA). According to the press release, “Schools that have a pervasive gap between historically marginalized students and their historically privileged peers will be eligible for Equity Supports to help narrow their performance gaps.” This includes added funding and assistance from AOE’s Education Quality Division.

At a media training meeting in preparation for the release of the online tool, presenters emphasized the tool’s goal is not to shame schools or students not meeting standards, but to identify places for improvement.

“As an agency and as a state, we are dedicated to helping those most in need,” said Secretary French in the press release. “Comprehensive and equity supports are one way that we are trying to ensure that all students in Vermont have access to a high-quality education … The goal is to provide a new level of data to help schools improve and grow.”