After four years of falling or stagnant DC Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS) scores, the hard work of Amidon-Bowen teachers and students is beginning to show results.

The exam, given each spring, tests the proficiency of the city’s students in 3rd through 8th grade, as well as 10th grade, in reading and math. The results provide part of the basis for evaluating teachers and principals on their effectiveness. Students are categorized as below basic, basic, proficient, or advanced, depending upon their scores. Students who score proficient are considered to be performing at grade-level.

In 2012, 16.8 percent of Amidon-Bowen students tested proficient or higher in math, and 21.8 percent tested proficient or higher in reading. In 2013, those numbers had risen to 20.6 percent and 30.9 respectively.

While the improvement in math scores tracked with the average improvement across DC public schools of 3.9 points, students’ reading scores increased  9.1 points, far exceeding the DC average of 4 points, and reflecting a 45 percent increase over last year’s results.

“In math, we grew, in reading, we leaped,” said Amidon-Bowen Principal, Izabela Miller. “We are hoping to see a leap in math in the coming year.”

Indeed, under Principal Miller’s guidance, the school has focused its efforts on improving reading skills and as the numbers attest, the strategy is paying off.

For the 2013-2014 school year, Amidon-Bowen’s focus will be on close reading and evidence-based writing. These skills will be taught and applied across subjects, including math and science.

Meanwhile, Amidon-Bowen teachers and administrators met over the summer to review the CAS results at a more granular level in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student. This information, Principal Miller hopes, will give teachers the context they need to understand the specific ways in which they can help boost the performance of their students who are nearing proficiency.

With an extremely strong team of teachers in place for the 2013-2014 school year, Principal Miller believe her school is well positioned to continue its trajectory of improving student performance.

“I am very proud of the work we have done,” Miller said, “and I am looking forward to building on our success in the year ahead.”

By: Lucy Rojansky

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