Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On Tuesday, Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen reported the latest state assessment results for math and reading in Montana’s public schools.

KGVO News spoke to Arntzen who said after third through eighth graders scored only 45 percent proficiency in reading and 37.5 percent proficiency in math, that ‘we have a lot of work to do’.

After Seeing such low Test Scores Arntzen said 'We Have a Lot of Work To Do'

“As a teacher myself and someone who really strives for that ‘A-plus’ grade, we have a lot of work to do,” began Arntzen. “Our reading scores in three through eight, and this is an average, they are 45 percent, and that 45 percent is on a range of 1 to 100. “We know this is below 50 percent, right? So, we are not where we really want to be. I know when I was a classroom teacher if you received a 45 percent score, we had a lot of work to do in the classroom.”

Arntzen said the math scores for third through eighth grades were also a disappointment.

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Arntzen said 3rd Through 8th Math Scores were also a Disappointment

“In math, we are at 37 percent, that’s 37 percent,” she said. “Again, 37 percent is an average for our state in math. We have done a lot of thinking and work around this, and we have found that the biggest drop-off that we are noticing, especially in math, is from fourth grade to fifth grade. The scores are pretty much consistent in third and fourth, but then at fifth grade, something happens and a downtrend occurs.”

Arntzen said after the COVID years when many students were taking classes remotely and scores were very low, that other testing methods should be attempted.

Arntzen said a New Testing Method Could be Tried in State Public Schools

“Three years ago, we started talking to the federal government about a different type of a test,” she said. “This is a through-year where you have five very simple 15-minute testlets that are closest to when the skill is taught. The student takes it for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then the teacher recognizes that growth immediately or also recognizes that they need to restructure their lessons.”

Arntzen said the new pilot testing method could be put in place soon enabling more accurate results.

“Then these five testlets are averaged over the course of the year, and that is what is submitted to the federal government,” she said. “Montana received a federal waiver. So this coming year 20,000 students who are in this new pilot of this through-year testlet model will not have to take that summative test at the end of the year. They are going to have a whole new model. This honors teachers, and more importantly, this honors the student. It is easily and simply more meaningful, and will recognize success in learning.”

Arntzen said English and Language Arts (ELA) testing for 11th graders showed

2022-2023 – 53.4 percent, with 2021-2022 – 42.1 percent.

Math proficiency for grade 11 ACT was: 2022-2023 – 30.3 percent proficient, and 2021-2022 – 25.1 percent. Arntzen said the ELA and Math scores for grade 11 were the highest since the pandemic and ELA proficiency was at a historic high.

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