Snoqualmie Valley WASL results above state average, but five schools don't meet all standards

Results from the spring’s statewide test show students at Snoqualmie Valley public schools continue to score above the state average in reading, writing, science and math. However, five Valley schools are among nearly 1,300 Washington schools and 209 districts that did not meet at least one of the federal government’s standards for adequate yearly progress.

Trend data for the district showed continued improvement in four categories, sustained declines in two categories and no discernible trend in 14 categories.

Snoqualmie Valley School District is examining the results to examine where programs are succeeding and where they need to be improved, Assistant Superintendent Don McConkey said.

Results for the 2009 Washington Assessment of Student Learning were released Friday, Aug. 14, by state officials, who noted that students will take new, shorter exams beginning this next school year.

The test measures whether state public schools and school districts are meeting federal education standards established in the No Child Left Behind act.

State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn criticized federal standards for being too rigid and punitive. He also reiterated his focus on school’s drop-out rates.

The adequate yearly progress system is “flawed,” and punishes states with high standards, such as Washington, he said.

All Washington schools could fail to meet standards by 2014, according to Dorn.

Different accountability systems are needed for schools at different levels, Dorn said.

If a school fails one of 37 possible categories measured, it fails to show adequate yearly progress. If it fails for two years in a row, it is designated for ‘improvement’ and penalties are applied if it receives federal money for low-income students. A school must meet standards for two consecutive years to be leave the list. No Valley schools currently in improvement have lost federal money.

This year nearly 1,100 schools in Washington were designated for improvement, including three Valley schools. Last year 618 schools were in improvement.

Two of the three schools, Chief Kanim Middle School and Fall City Elementary, did not meet all requirements this year. The other school, Snoqualmie Middle School, did meet adequate yearly progress.

Most Valley schools not meeting all requirements came up short in Special Education. Two schools, Snoqualmie Elementary School and Mount Si High School, had low-income students fall short in at least one subject area.

McConkey agreed with Dorn’s frustration with the federal government’s measurement system, especially with penalties for schools failing in one or two categories.

“There may be other ways of helping students without going to punitive measures,” McConkey said.

Dorn also raised concern with what is being measured, noting the high drop-out rate for high school students in Washington. He also noted that graduates of state high schools who attend the University of Washington have a high drop-out rate.

“Is what we’re teaching the right thing?” he asked during a telephone interview with the Valley Record.

The state has already revised its math standards, which will have greater focus than before, Dorn said.

The state’s science standards are being reviewed for revision.

Snoqualmie Valley fifth and eighth grade students have shown marked improvement in science, but 10th grade students continued to struggle this year, with just over 48 percent meeting the requirement.

Similarly, younger students have succeed in math, with the percent of passing students dropping off as they get older. This year 83 percent of third graders passed the math portion of the WASL, while just over 58 percent of 10th graders passed.

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