WASL scores: good news, bad news

Published on Thu, Sep 27, 2001
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WASL scores: good news, bad news

Recently released state standardized test scores show many Blaine students are still struggling with the basics, but schools are making some progress bringing them up to state standards.

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning rates student performance in reading, writing, math and listening against state academic standards for 4th, 7th and10th grades.

Blaine fourth grade scores dropped from last year’s scores and fell below the state average for the percentage of students that achieved state performance standards. “They didn’t go down significantly anywhere,” said elementary school principal and school district assessment director Deb Cummings.

“The state’s goal for us is improvement every year and we’re working towards that goal.” The percentage of fourth grade students meeting reading standards dropped from 69 percent in 1999-2000 to 59% in 2000-2001, reading dropped from 43 to 39 percent and writing from 40 to 35. Listening scores went up, with 74 percent of students meeting standards, compared with 70 last year.

Blaine elementary students also failed to reach a state goal set in 1998 to increase the number of students meeting reading standards by 25 percent by 2001. The goal was to have 61 percent of students up to standards but only 59 percent made the mark. However, Fourth grade reading performance had exceeded the goal in the previous two years. “We had a goal set based on the results of one set of 4th graders and another group are expected to meet it,” Cummings said. “You have to look at a more overall trend. Every year since the goal was set, we’ve exceeded it.”

Seventh graders showed the strongest results on this year’s WASL tests, with more students meeting standards in all subjects than the average of state schools and improving over last year’s performance in reading and listening. The percentage of students meeting reading standards rose by one percentage point from 1999-2000 to 41 percent in 2000-2001 and listening went from 81 to 90 percent. Math dropped marginally from 37 to 35 percent and writing from 51 to 50. Even with the decrease in math, Blaine Middle School was in the top 50 states in the school for 7th grade math scores. Cummings said the middle school would be working to improve math and reading scores. “Even though they’re higher than the state average, that’s not where we want them to be,” she said.

At Blaine high school, the percentage of tenth graders meeting state standards fell in all subjects, while statewide tenth grade results went up. Fewer tenth graders met state standards than the average for all state schools. Compared to 1999-2000, the percentage of students meeting standards in 2000-2001 fell from 63 to 57 percent in reading, from 34 to 29 percent in math, from 33 to 31 percent in writing and from 81 to 77 percent in listening. “We’re going to set improvement goals and work on them as a staff,” said high school principal Dan Newell. “What we’re trying to do is make sure our students are ready for the test by the class of 2008.” Meeting WASL standards will become a graduation requirement in 2008. Tenth grade students have been taking the test since 1998.

“They’ll be setting strong improvement goals,” Cummings said.

“The WASL is one picture in a photo album,” Cummings said. “It’s a good way to gauge yourself against other schools in the state.” She said fluctuating scores shouldn’t be taken out of context. “We look at it as a set of K-12 goals,” she said. “For kids to do well they need to do well all the way.” She said Blaine schools and schools all over the state would be setting improvement goals to get more students up to state standards. .

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