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District WASL scores outpace state

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - Students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District continued to outscore the state on most parts of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) but there are still sections of the test that less than half of the students who take pass.

The test's scores, which are given in the percentage of students who took the test that passed, were up in most categories in the district. Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Joel Aune said the scores continued an upward trend in student performance over the past years that the district has seen.

"There wasn't any surprises," Aune said.

The highest test score was fourth-grade reading, which was 89.5. The lowest was 10th-grade science at 40.6.

The biggest gain was in fifth-grade science (a section that has been given to fifth-graders for only the past two years), which jumped up more than 20 points to 55.7 from last year's 35.6. The second highest jump was in fourth-grade reading (89.5), which went up nearly 6 points from last year's score (83.6).

The biggest drop was in seventh-grade writing, which dropped almost 8 points to 73.6 from 81. In fact, all the writing scores declined. Fourth-grade writing (the only part of the test that the district did not score better than the state on) went from 57.7 to 56.5, and 10th-grade scored 64.9 compared to last year's 66.3.

Passage of the test, which has been given in various forms to students throughout the state since 1997, will be a requirement for the class of 2008 (this year's 10th-graders). As it stands now, those students will have to pass all four sections of the test when it is given again next spring in 2006 in order to graduate. Students will be able to retake portions of the test that they don't pass.

In a press release issued last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson stressed that graduation day for the class of 2008 is still more than two years away and that students can make a lot of headway on the WASL in that time.

"We have 88,000 reasons to make the next 1,014 days before the class of 2008 graduates count," she said on Aug. 31, when the WASL scores were released. "We must keep WASL scores in proper perspective so the results become less about 'the test' and more about helping our students become prepared for the very real challenges they will face once they leave our schools."

Since there are completely different students that take the test each year, Aune said the district will be following grades over time to see how well they did on their fourth-, fifth-, seventh- and tenth-grade tests. He hopes an investigation of those scores will reveal the same upward trend the district has seen on the year-to-year basis that it has in the past.

* There is a presentation of the Snoqualmie Valley School District's WASL scores planned for the next meeting of the district's board of directors. The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8, at the district administration building at 8001 Silva Ave. in Snoqualmie.

Editor Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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