WASL woes

Valley 10th-graders bucked the statewide trend of declining WASL (Washington State Assessment of Student Learning) math scores.

"Overall, we feel pretty positive [about the results]," Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Joel Aune said. "We're really pleased with the 10th-grade numbers."

Tenth-graders showed a 10 percent gain over last year in meeting state standards in math, according to the official reports released Sept. 8. State standard percentages are based on 2005-2006 10th-grade students; previous competency levels are based on that year's class.

Fourth- and seventh-grade competency percentages showed about a 6 and 4 percent decline in math, respectively.

"It's not a huge surprise for us," Aune said, noting that last year was the first year of the district's new math program.

"We had been told we may see a little bit of a dip in the first year, but at the same time we also think that this trend will start to turn the other way," Aune added. "I think we're on the right track."

In fact, scores are up overall for 10th-grade students in the Snoqualmie school district.

This year, 92.9 percent met state standards in reading, about 15 points higher than last year. About 64 percent met standards in math, 88.1 percent in writing and 46.5 percent in science. Last year's competency levels were at 77.8 percent for reading, 53.9 percent for math, 67.2 percent for writing and 42 percent in science.

The state-required test is designed to measure critical thinking skills and application through written responses and explanations. Passing reading, math and writing is required for the class of 2008 to graduate high school.

As a whole, the Snoqualmie Valley School District's WASL scores managed to avoid following the state's decline in meeting standards by showing gains or stable rates in most areas.

"Our teachers have really been working hard and I think their efforts are showing in our scores. The trend is generally an upward trend," Aune said. "In general, with our WASL scores, I think we're pretty pleased. We've made some good, steady growth."

He added that the district would look at the results for all the tests to determine its next steps.

Statewide, 51.2 percent of 10th graders (up from last year's 47.5 percent), 48.5 percent of seventh graders (down from last year's 50.8 percent) and 58.9 percent of fourth graders (down from 60.8 percent) met or exceeded the state standards on this year's math portion of the exam.

Reading levels were a mixed bag throughout the state. Eighty-one percent of fourth-graders (up from last year's 79.5 percent), 61.5 percent of seventh-graders (down from 69 percent last year) and 82.9 percent of 10th-graders (up from 73 percent last year) met state standards.

Washington state students seem to be doing better at writing. Sixty percent of fourth-graders met standards this year, as opposed to 57.7 percent last year. Seventh-grade results showed about a 4 percent increase over last year, from 61 percent to 64.5 percent of students meeting standards. About 65 percent of 10th-graders met standards last year, while this year that number jumped to 79.9 percent statewide.

Testing in grades third, fifth, sixth and eighth grades was new in the 2005-2006 school year. Complete results are available online.

"Mathematics is our challenge," said state superintendent Terry Bergeson. "This is not a motivation problem ... this is a challenge in terms of skills."

About 90 percent of fourth-graders in the district met standards in reading, 69.9 percent in math and 74.9 percent in writing. Last year's WASL scores were 89.9 percent in reading, 76.7 percent in math and 56.8 percent in writing.

This year, 78.9 percent of seventh-graders met standards in reading, about 63.8 percent in math and about 79.3 percent in writing. Last year, the scores were 82.2 percent in reading, 67.5 percent in math and 74.5 percent in writing.

This year for the first time, the WASL's reading and math sections were also given to students in third, fifth, sixth and eighth grades. The 2004-2005 school year's implementation was a pilot program.

About 78 percent of Valley third-graders met standards in reading and 78.7 percent in math. Fifth-graders scored 89.5 percent in reading and 74.5 percent in math. About 75 percent of sixth-graders met standards in reading and 61.1 percent in math. Eighth-graders scored 83.9 percent in reading and 68.9 percent in math.

Students who did not pass the WASL have alternative tutorial and classroom options available to them, said Kathy Lohman, director of student services for the district.

Individual scores for students have not yet been received by the district but will be sent out to parents when they become available, Lohman said, noting that the scores are anticipated soon.

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