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WASL scores are out; math and science are still down

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Published on Wed, Sep 3, 2008
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WASL scores are out; math and science are still down

BY CHUCK TUCK | JOURNAL REPORTER Lower grade classes show marked improvement
The 2007-08 Washington State Assessment of Student Learning, better known as the WASL, recently released its test scores.

The scores at many of the school districts in our state continue to show low aptitude in the areas of math and science for 10th graders, however, some districts are showing improvement.

According to the Washington State Report Card from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, only 44.4 percent of 10th graders are meeting the minimum standards of understanding math, and only 35.8 percent are meeting the standards in science.
In Granite Falls, the scores for 10th graders show a slight drop in math, but an increase in science.

Lake Stevens School District fared a little better with 10th grade scores in reading and writing making gains over the previous year with 90 percent of students meeting standard in reading and 90 percent in writing. Students need to meet standard on these two tests in order to qualify for graduation from high school.

Lake Stevens’ math and science scores reflected a slight increase over the previous year’s scores with 54 percent meeting standard in math and 37 percent in science.

In order for students to graduate they must either pass the math WASL or continue to enroll in math classes all four years. Passing science is not yet a requirement for graduation.

Kathy Grant, Community Relations Director for the Granite Falls School District said they did see an increase in several areas at different grade levels.

“We saw several areas of improvement in our scores such as in fifth grade reading scores which are up eight points and science up seven points; our sixth grade math is up eight points and our 10th grade reading is up seven points and science up four points,” she said. “We have started to review the details of the results and also found that we had very strong areas of growth in elementary and middle school math probability/statistics, program solving and algebraic sense; high school reading in information, critical thinking and literary interpretation; and both eighth and 10th grade scores in science are above the state average.”

Admittedly, there were some decrease in test scores, but Grant says that they are already working on those areas and will begin work on training staff members to help student achievement.

“We have math and science coaches on staff and will begin curriculum and assessment work in the next few months to target staff training to continue to improve student achievement and the middle and high schools have new materials to help with interventions for students that are falling behind.”

Grant also added that the state is continuing to work hard in assessing the math problem and the difficulty students are having comprehending science.

LSHS Principal Collins noted that many top performing students didn’t take the test with their parent’s permission. Students had weeks of WASL testing in reading, writing, math and science was the last component – it was meaningless to them in terms of requirements or grades.

For the district however, it means the overall test score is low. For every student that doesn’t take the test their score is counted as a zero and is computed in with the overall district score.

“We did everything we could think of to encourage students to take the science test, including raffling off great prizes to offering extra credit for those who took the test. It didn’t work – one third of our sophomores didn’t show up and another 100 had unexcused absences that day,” Collins said.

While students have various paths to graduation with regard to state requirements for math, it remains an area of focus for improvement for Lake Stevens and Granite Falls School Districts at all grade levels.

OSPI (the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) has just announced new math standards and curriculum recommendations for math and the Lake Stevens School District will work immediately to ensure that its curriculum is aligned with the state’s grade level expectations.

Additionally, the district initiated a goal last year for all 8th grade students to be enrolled in algebra.

“Algebra by eighth grade will better prepare our students for the 10th grade WASL,” Superintendent David Burgess said. “Our data shows clearly that the vast majority of students who have taken algebra in eighth grade are successful in meeting standard on the math WASL.”

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