April 8, 2003 – In May, students on St. Croix in grades 2, 5, 7 and 10 will take a battery of national achievement tests, the Education Department announced on Tuesday.
The various "Iowa Tests" will cover subject matter taught during the school year. They are being administered to determine both "individualized academic success" and "the systemic educational proficiency of the department," a release stated.
The tests are designed to suit various ages, educational levels and levels of English proficiency, the release said. Testing is to begin on May 6. For younger pupils, tests may be spread out over three days, the release said, while for older students, they may be administered over two days.
Pupils in grades 2, 5 and 7 will take the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. Those in grade 10 will take the Iowa Test of Educational Development. Students in the English as a Second Language program will take the Spanish equivalent of the ITED, called Logramos ("We're succeeding").
Terrence T. Joseph, St. Croix district schools superintendent, said the results of the testing "are critical" and "will indicate our students' strengths and weaknesses and will provide the department with the verifiable data with which to make decisions … and to implement appropriate corrective action plans."
Also, Joseph noted, the results will allow local educators to compare their student's achievement levels with those of students throughout the nation.
It is hoped that the test results "will provide administrators with an insight into which educational approaches are most successful for our students, as well as where we need to either improve or select an alternative route," Joseph said.
He said it is important that parents and other community members "support and encourage students to do their best as they take these exams."
There was no explanation as to why only the St. Croix district will be administering the tests, or clarification as to whether private and parochial as well as public schools will take part.
Virgin Islands public school students as a whole have scored at or near the bottom in recent years in nationwide standardized testing. Results of 8th grade writing tests in 1998 led then-Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds to comment in 1999: "There is no place for our students to go but up." (See "V.I. eighth graders score low in writing skills".)
The Nation's Report Card for Mathematics 2000 showed V.I. fourth graders — the only level for which results in the territory were reported — ranked 43rd out of 44 jurisdictions, trailed only by American Samoa. Three months later, when the results for The Nation's Report Card for Science 2000 were released, the results, again for 4th graders, were the same. (See "V.I. next to bottom in 4th grade science scores".)
The test results now for 10th graders could be utilized in meeting criteria for re-accreditation of Central High School, one of the three public high schools that lost their accreditation in November of 2001. The other St. Croix high school, the newer Educational Complex, has yet to be accredited.

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