Seaford schools have some of the highest test scores in the state

By Scott Bleile

"We have come a long way from the 2013-14 school year," said Seaford School District's Superintendent David Perrington. "We were dead last that year and we have on average moved up to seventh and eighth in math and ELA in a short amount of time. We still have a lot of work to do, but as I told the teachers the other day, we can celebrate, but we need to get back to work when the students return to school."

In 2014, Seaford's third through eighth grades ranked last out of 16 school districts in the state. Seaford student's proficiency in ELA was at 56 percent. The state average was 72 percent. The same year math proficiency was 50 percent and the state average 69 percent. "The increases come down to people, our staff who are deeply committed to changing the culture in the district," Perrington continued. "Teachers bought into the professional development (PD) we offered during the year. Its not just the PD and what they take away from it, but do they take it back to their classroom and implement it? This can make a difference."

The increases were across the board in the elementary schools with some being first. Seaford was the top performing district in third grade math. The proficiency was at 68.81 percent. Laurel was at 42.07 percent and Woodbridge at 48.07 percent. "We expect the increases to continue," said Dr. Cory Miklus, Seaford's assistant superintendent. "This is because of all the work being done by our elementary teachers. Our fifth grade was the top performing in math, third grade third out of 15 in ELA, fourth grade 5th out of 15 in ELA and 3rd of 15 in math. Unfortunately, we did not see much growth at the middle school. We hope this will change with future testing." Perrington added, "We are going in the right direction and will get there with higher scores."

"We will continue to analyze the data. We are partnering with the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Education to do more work in the areas of ELA and math in the secondary schools," said Miklus.

Several factors were the key to the success according to Miklus. "A change in culture is the main key. We have set higher expectations for not only our students, but also our staff. We are making sure the teachers have as many resources available to them as we can provide. Our building principals have set high standards and help the teachers achieve their goals."

"Our focus is not one and done," Perrington continued. "This is not a flash in the pan. We can see the success becoming the norm. Winning breeds winning. Everyone enjoys winning. Our schools are no longer in the FOCUS program. In fact, many are being used as models for other schools to copy because of what we have done. There have been many good things said about our district by other administrators and the media. Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting remarked even though the results of the state's score were sluggish, bright spots are evident in some districts. Wide gains in Smarter Balanced math were achieved in three downstate districts, Indian River, Laurel and Seaford."

Seaford School District's celebration of their test scores was evident at the welcome back breakfast and assembly of teachers, when one teacher yelled, "We will do even better this year!" Perrington echoed the teacher's feelings. "We can celebrate, but the real work starts on Tuesday when the students return.

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