More Delaware students are participating in statewide mathematics and English language arts assessments, and more students are proficient in these subjects, according to preliminary 2017 state assessment results for grades three through eight and high school.

Delaware’s participation rate in the state’s Smarter assessment increased from 98 percent in 2016 to 99 percent this year in ELA and mathematics. The overall state proficiency in math is 45 percent this year — up 1 percent from 2016 and up 3 percent from 2015. With more students testing, the number of students on track to college and career readiness in math increased more than 1,300 this year from 2016 and more than 3,500 since Delaware established its Smarter baseline in 2015. The significant gains this year were in mathematics in grades five, six and seven.

“Last year as a state we recognized the need to focus on middle school mathematics and, therefore, provided targeted professional learning and resources to our districts and schools. I am excited to see the progress in this area, which results from the hard work of our students and educators,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.

The Department of Education provided support to middle school math teachers by developing a Mathematics Curriculum Academy. The professional learning opportunity guides math teachers and leaders as they develop high-quality lessons to use in their classrooms. The instructional units they created are available to educators statewide, and the academy continues to support math teachers across districts.

In 2016, the department also established Reimagining Professional Learning grants to support the work of districts and charters committed to improving the quality of professional learning for Delaware teachers. Grants were given to districts and charters based on plans in English/language arts, mathematics and literacy.

Milford took an innovative approach with the grants, applying them to improve math outcomes across elementary schools in the district. Superintendent Kevin Dickerson credits the leadership and commitment of the elementary teaching staff and the dedication of more time to focus on math instructional strategies for students as part of the reason why the district saw a seven-point increase in math proficiency this year.

In ELA, Delaware scores dipped to 54 percent and increased two percent from the 2015 baseline. Despite the slight dip in overall performance, Delaware has more students who rated proficient or advanced. About 300 more students are on track to college and career readiness in ELA in grades three through eight than 2016, and nearly 2,600 more students have achieved this level of ELA proficiency since 2015.

In math, Laurel Middle School went up 11 points since last year and has gone up 24 points since 2015. In ELA, Laurel has gained 19 percentage points since 2015

In SAT, the state’s accountability test for high school, this year’s results reflect a larger student population than in previous years due to a change in business rules. Nearly 900 more students participated in the SAT this year than in 2016. While overall state proficiency in the SAT evidence-based reading and writing assessment held steady at 53 percent this year — the same percent proficient as 2016 — 516 additional students are demonstrating college and career readiness. In math, while 29 percent of students demonstrated proficiency this year compared to 31 percent in 2016, 52 more students are now college and career ready than were last year.

It should be noted that the score release is distinct from the College Board release in September. In that annual release, the College Board reports on graduating class data. The release by the state reflects the scores of the incoming Class of 2018.

Also released were statewide scores for the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System Science exam, administered in grades five, eight and 10 and the DCAS-Alt, which is administered to students with severe cognitive disabilities. For DCAS Science, Delaware saw an overall two-point decline in grade five and grade eight and maintained in grade 10. Delaware is transitioning to a new science assessment system this year to align more closely to the Next Generation Science Standards taught in Delaware classrooms. The new assessment will begin field testing in the upcoming school year.

For DCAS-Alt, results varied. Students taking the DCAS-Alt1 have specific needs within each grade. In grades six to eight, Delaware saw an increase from 64 percent to 65 percent in reading and an increase from 60 percent to 66 percent in math. Other grade bands were down from 2016.

The state did not administer a social studies exam this year. A new assessment will launch in the 2017-18 school year.