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WASL scores show Valley students ahead of state average

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - Test scores released last week by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) showed that students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) continued to make headway on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) and continue to outscore the state average.

"It really is a credit to the hard work of our teaching staff," said Don McConkey, assistant superintendent for the district.

The WASL, a standardized test that was given to every fourth-, fifth-, seventh-, eighth- and 10th-grader in the state last year, is administered every spring. Tests given to the fourth-, seventh- and 10th-graders are more extensive, while the other grades take only a science portion of the test. The 2003-2004 tests marked the first year the tests did not include a listening section.

Unlike other standardized tests, the WASL is set to be part of graduation requirements for Washington students by the class of 2008 (this fall's ninth-graders who will therefore have to pass the 10th-grade WASL in 2006).

Last school year's SVSD students scored higher than the state average on all sections of the test and higher than previous year's students in the district on most sections of the test. Some scores, which are percent ages of students who passed the state standard, went up considerably. The science scores for eight- and 10th-grade went up, respectively, from 49.6 percent to 59.1 percent, and from 34 percent to 40.1 percent.

Gains at the seventh-grade level also were impressive compared to last year's scores. Reading went from 66 percent to 81.6 percent, math rose from 53.1 percent to 65.8 percent and writing climbed from 72.3 percent to 81 percent.

There were a few exceptions.

At the fourth-grade level, the writing score dipped to 57.7 percent compared to last year's 59.7 percent score, and math, which was 66.1 percent compared to last year's 66.4 percent. Tenth-grade writing also slipped slightly, going down to 66.3 percent from last year's 66.6 percent.

McConkey said, however, the district has continued a solid upward trend. Some scores have doubled or even tripled since the first years the tests were given in the springs of 1997, 1998 and 1999.

"We are really pleased," McConkey said.

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said that while the state's overall upward trend on the WASL has been encouraging, there are still many challenges in public education, particularly with the "achievement gap" between African-American, Hispanic and Native American students and their fellow white and Asian-American students.

"We are at a crossroads," Bergeson said in a press release. "Despite the gains, we still have an appalling achievement gap. We still have many students who aren't making enough academic progress to earn a skill-based diploma. We will lose many of these students if we don't take deliberate action over the next several years.

"We must launch an extensive, statewide communications effort to involve citizens in recommitting to our educational future and the goals we have set for our children. We must fight for and dedicate the resources necessary to keep our promises to our kids," Bergeson said. "And finally, we must restore balanced and meaningful accountability policy, so we can motivate students and educators to move to higher levels of achievement and recognize the real improvements they are making."

* For more information about the WASL, including test scores for individual schools and student demographic groups, visit http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.

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