Local districts generally happy with test scores
April 30, 2009 · Updated 10:26 AM
After the Offrice of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office released Washington Assessment of Student Learning results Aug. 26, academic leaders in the Enumclaw, White River and Carbonado school districts said their intervention programs are paying off, especially in reading and writing.
For two in particular, those same strategies will be put to work in math.
According to OSPI, the WASL is designed to measure student learning. Educators use WASL results to improve teaching and to do a better job of meeting student’s academic needs. The WASL is a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-response questions. Students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 take the WASL each spring in reading and math. Students also are tested in writing in grades 4, 7 and 10, and science in grades 5, 8 and 10.
State scores showed many districts’ reading scores had stagnated, while math continues to test students. The state is also making math a priority, which hasn’t been lost on the three local school districts.
White River made math a priority last year as part of its professional development process and brought in a curriculum, the Bridges in Mathematics program, to support it. WASL scores indicate the program worked for White River with math scores up at nearly every grade level. The Bridges’ elementary program is one the state is recommending to school districts.
“We’re very, very pleased, excited as a matter of fact,” said Mike Jacobsen, the district’s assessment and curriculum director. “It shows, yes, what we do makes a difference. It tells our staff what you do does make a difference.”
Jacobsen noted White River scores were up in 14 of 20 possible areas and down in just six.
“In comparison to the state,” he said. “The state noticed a drop at third grade math and reading, and we had gains, pretty positive gains.
“Scores for third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade math were up, and the state didn’t see that.”
Math scores for White River third-grade students were at 80 percent. The district saw increases across the board except seventh grade. The biggest gains in math were at Foothills Elementary where third graders posted scores of 90 percent. Wickersham School of Discovery fifth-grade math scores were also in the 90s for the second straight year. Third graders there also were high at 83 percent.
The district was singling out Foothills success because it had gains in all areas, Jacobsen said, and they can specifically point to math and reading curriculum and intervention for its higher scores.
“We’re excited to see the results pay off and want the staff to celebrate that,” he said.
Science scores were also up. In reading, White River fourth-grade students posted 80 percent; fifth grade registered 81 and 10th-grade, 80. Writing at 10th grade scored 86 percent.
Jacobsen said it’s gratifying for administrators and staff to see sustained upward progress.
While taking a moment to celebrate, he said the district isn’t where it needs to be in math yet. Staff will have to continue to push harder now to keep the momentum rolling, but the success should make it easier.
Enumclaw students again showed skill in reading and writing.
“Across our district we continue to score high in reading,” said Terry Parker, Enumclaw’s assessment and curriculum director. “That’s been a long-standing trend. I also thought the high school scores were extremely strong especially in reading, writing and science.”
He said those scores, 10th-grade reading at 91 percent and writing at 93 percent, were improvements and all-time highs. Science was a 48, improving on last year’s 43.
Parker said fourth- and seventh-grade writing was also a welcome improvement. He said teachers in those areas have been working hard on curriculum and instructional changes. District fourth-grade students scored 73 percent in reading and 62 percent in writing; seventh-grade students scored 68 in reading and 70 in writing.
Parker said results in mathematics were mixed with a number of decreases, but sixth- and seventh-grade scores were up slightly.
“Without question mathematics is our number one improvement goal this year, and I would foresee, the next few years,” Parker said. Leaders are ready to launch a broad-based, district-wide mathematics improvement plan that will involve evaluation, assessment, curriculum and instruction.
“We plan to focus on mathematics the same way we’ve successfully focused on reading and writing in past years in our district,” Parker said. “We’re excited to put the same focus, as a school district and a community, as we’ve put on literacy and recently writing and I think we’ll have the same kind of success. It’s time to go to work.”
In Carbonado, a district with 182 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade, Superintendent Scott Hubbard and staff were also celebrating high reading and writing scores and rolling up their sleeves to tackle math.
Hubbard was excited about scores in Carbonado - seeing the staff’s reading and writing intervention paying off.
“We’re very, very happy with the results of students who were able to utilize these strategies,” he said, noting that few students scored in the lower levels in any subject.
Fifth-grade reading numbers were at 96 percent; seventh grade reading at 90. Writing for seventh-grade students hit 85 percent with fourth-grade students marking 74 percent.
“We’re ecstatic about stats like that,” Hubbard said.
Carbonado’s math numbers were high in third, fourth, fifth and seventh grade, but Hubbard is anxious to get those numbers higher.
“I’m looking forward to the state giving us good direction for mathematics,” Hubbard said. He noted the new math standards have been a long time coming and his staff spent time this summer gathering to plan an attack.
Hubbard and staff are also tackling science this year, providing more time for the subject and bringing in a new K-6 program.