November 5, 2021

Dear Hastings Families, 

Academic Screening: Screening Process

This year we have been using a new resource, STAR Renaissance, as a diagnostic screener in grades K-8 to support our understanding of students’ strengths and areas for growth in reading and mathematics. As previously communicated, this screener will be administered three times this year to students in grades K-8; once in the fall, once in the winter, and once in the spring. 

Our fall diagnostic screening window has now closed and our educators have had the opportunity to examine score reports. Because STAR Renaissance is a new resource for us, administrator and teacher training in accessing and understanding the reports needed to occur immediately following the screening window. After the training, a window of time was provided for review and analysis of the reports in order to inform instruction. Though we are still in the early stages of understanding this brand new resource and analyzing data, we would like to make student score reports available to parents. 

Academic Screening: Parent Reports

Although many districts do not share diagnostic screening results unless requested, we are committed to transparency about student performance and growth. We have instituted a cycle of screening, internal analysis of student data, and score reporting.  This cycle enables teachers to understand the needs of students, guide instructional planning, and respond thoughtfully to parent questions.  Parents of students in grades 1-8 will receive 2 reports, one for reading and one for mathematics.  Parents of kindergarten students will receive one report, which combines early literacy and early numeracy assessment. The information should support substantive dialogue between home and school.

Score reporting to parents originally was going to be digital through the eSchool data portal. We encountered technical difficulties in syncing these two applications, however, which has caused a delay in making reports available to parents. For this first set of reports, a paper mailing will go out the second week of November to ensure parents receive student data as soon as possible. 

Please understand that this is a single snapshot of your child’s performance at the beginning of the school year.  It is also one of the multiple academic data points. It is most important for us to be able to examine your child’s academic growth over time, indicative of how they are responding to instruction, which is why diagnostic screening will occur three times during the school year.    

Interpreting the Parent Report

The parent report is a form letter that the application generates.  It will include the following specific information:

  • Your child’s name and the name of the teacher who administered the screener. 
  •  A scaled score, percentile rank, percentile rank range, and your child’s relative performance based on national norms; below average, average, or above average.
  • Reports in the area of reading may also include a lexile range (if a child is already reading text).  The lexile level will be blank for our youngest learners who are continuing to develop reading readiness. 
  • Blank teacher and parent signature lines, which you may disregard.  Teachers have reviewed your child’s data online (eliminating the need for signatures). 

Definitions of the terms you will see in the reports have been provided by STAR Renaissance:

  • Scaled Score (SS) is useful for comparing student performance over time and across grades. A scaled score is calculated based on the difficulty of questions and the number of correct responses. Because the same range is used for all students, scaled scores can be used to compare student performance across grade levels. 
  • Percentile Rank (PR) is a norm-referenced score that provides a measure of a student’s math ability compared to other students in the same grade nationally. The percentile rank score, which ranges from 1 to 99, indicates the percentage of other students nationally who obtained scores equal to or lower than the score of a particular student. For example, a student with a percentile rank score of 85 performed as well as or better than 85 percent of other students in the same grade.
  • Percentile Rank Range (PR Range) indicates the statistical variability in a student’s percentile rank score. For example, a student with a percentile rank range of 32–59 is likely to score within that range if the Star Math test is taken again within a short time (i.e., four to six weeks). 
  • Lexile® Measure* represents a student’s reading ability. The Lexile® Measure is shown as a number with an “L” after it: 750L is 750 Lexile®. Higher Lexile® measures indicate higher levels of reading ability. A Lexile® measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers. 

*Please note that Lexile is one way to measure reading ability.  Another can be through Fountas and Pinnell text levels. Many other factors affect the relationship between readers and texts as related to classroom instruction. 

Again, it is important to remember that the STAR Renaissance reports provide performance data based on a single moment in time and are being compared with other performance data to support teaching and learning.  Please contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions after reviewing your child’s academic screener score reports.

We will be able to gauge student growth as we proceed through the subsequent screening windows in the winter and spring. The winter screening window will take place from December 1st through January 15th, and the spring screening window will take place from April 15th through May 31st, both of which will be followed by a two-week period of data analysis before parent reports are shared.  

SEL Screening

On a related note, we administered the Panorama SEL screener in grades K-12 today on Friday, November 5th. This is one week later than originally intended.  As a reminder, in grades K-2 teachers are completing the screener on behalf of students. Students in grades 3-12 accessed and completed the survey digitally through a link. Please note that accommodations for students with IEPs and English Language Learners were honored. 

Summary Presentations of Districtwide Performance

Aggregate data from both the STAR screener and Panorama screener will be presented at the November 22, 2021 Board of Education meeting.  A summary and analysis of themes will be provided.  No information will be provided on individual student performance.

We look forward to productive discussions with families about student performance and growth.

Best regards,

Melissa Szymanski, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction