NTF Issue Paper: ops46.doc.  10-05.

 

NEBRASKA TAXPAYERS FOR FREEDOM ISSUE PAPER:

OPS CAT SCORES GOING DOWN THE DRAIN.

 

BACKGROUND.  Every spring, public school children in many Nebraska school districts in several grades take the California Achievement Test (CAT).  Students in the Omaha Public Schools system have taken the CAT Test for 12 years.  During March, 2005, pupils in Grades 2, 5, and 8 participated and received assessments in reading, language, and math.  This test helps parents, students, and educators make decisions about academic needs and monitor the effectiveness of curriculum, class programs, and instructional practices.  It permits school districts to compare the achievement of students in their schools to those throughout the state and nation.  The CAT is a battery of norm-referenced standardized tests, achievement compared to the achievement of a national norm group administered the same test at about the same time of year.  Norm-referenced test items discriminate among students at different achievement levels. Statistically, the achievement level below the 23rd percentile is less than average, that above 77% considered above average.  OPS CAT test scores continue to generally plummet.

 

READING.  In Grade 2, reading vocabulary and comprehension subtests marked at the 61st percentile, the same as that in 1999-2000.  69% of these students fell at or below average.  In Grade 5, the same subtests scored at the 56th percentile, 1% lower than in 1999-2000. 72% of these kids fell at or below average.  In Grade 8, these subtests ranked at 53% compared to 56% in 1999-2000.  76% of these students pegged at or below average.  No improvement.

 

LANGUAGE.  In language mechanics and expression subtests, Grade 2 stood at 71% compared to 72% in 1999-2000.  58% of these students fell at or below average.  Grade 5 subtests scored at the 67th percentile compared to 70th in 1999-2000.  61% of these kids stood at or below average.    In Grade 8, these subtests ranked at 57% compared to 64% in 1999-2000.  69% of these students pegged at or below average.  No improvement here.

 

MATH.  In math computation and concepts subtests, Grade 2 ranked at 78%, 2 percentages higher than in 1999-2000.  47% of these students fell at or below average.  Grade 5 subtests scored at the 65th percentile compared to 64% in 1999-2000.  65% of these kids stood at or below average.  Grade 8 subtests scored at 57%, 1% higher than in 1999-2000.  74% of these students pegged at or below average, despite three slightly higher rankings here! 

 

The mean scores in all these 3 grades fell below the 77th percentile national norm.  8th Graders performed worse in all categories of these curricula compared to 2002!

 

SCHOOL RANKINGS.  Of 62 OPS elementary school classes of 2nd, 5th, and 8th Grade students, only 3 ranked at or above average in reading, only 16 at or above average in language, and only 25 at or above average in math.  Only 3 schools in the entire district pegged above average in all 3 categories.  35 (77%) elementary schools showed below average scores in all 3 categories.  Examining the 10 middle schools, none ranked at or above average in reading, 1 ranked above average in language, and 0 pegged at above average in math.  9 middle schools showed below average in all 3 curricula.  29 of 62 OPS elementary schools, almost 50%, revealed lower cumulative scores counting each of the 3 grades, compared to 2000.  Compared to the same 9 middle schools in 2000, these OPS schools all showed lower cumulative scores. 

 

CONCLUSION.  The OPS school board annually hikes our property taxes, complains that it receives insufficient state aid, and pleads for additional federal monies.  However, it squanders its revenue on laptop computers and public relations gimmicks instead of investing it in basic educational methods like phonics and Spaulding Reading.  The OP$ administration excuses low test scores by citing poor, minority, and immigrant children, yet it continues to use  educational methods in its classrooms long ago proved worthless.  OPS should invest its revenues in proved, basic curricula to boost its standardized test scores, as already accomplished in other urban school districts.

 

Research, analysis, and documentation for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.  This material copyrighted by NE Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by Citizens for Local Control, Cherry County Taxpayers, Dawes County Taxpayers, and other groups in the Tax Freedom Network.   10-05.  C