Blaine hires new assistant principal, releases WASL test results

Published on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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Blaine school district students turned in a creditable performance in a report on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test results, according to the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment Deb Cummings.

Cummings reported that test results for Blaine students are above the state of Washington averages in 15 out of 19 grade level and content areas. Exceptions are seventh grade reading and science for fifth and tenth graders. By those figures Blaine compares favorably with other similar rural districts in Whatcom County – one-third of the test results in Lynden, half in Mt. Baker and 13 out of 20 in Meridian were below average.

“We had a big jump in sixth-grade reading and eighth grade science,” said Cummings, adding that results for eighth grade this year were up 22 percent over last year. That means that 22 percent more of the eighth graders who took the science test this year passed it compared with last year’s group.”

On the other hand, seventh grade test results for reading dropped from 73 percent two years ago to 63 percent last year and 57 percent this year.

High school math is also below par with less than half (46 percent) passing the test. “It should be noted that these results could change when the scores of those students retesting this [August] are calculated into the over-all summary,” Cummings said.

All in all, Cummings was pleased with the way Blaine stacks up against the other rural districts in the county.
The only category where Blaine currently does not meet the rising federal standard known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) from the No Child Left Behind act is in special education.

The WASL has been in effect for over a decade but is being shelved, as promised by Randy Dorn, successful candidate for state superintendent of public instruction last fall.

He said in his campaign that he felt the test was too tough and was not a particularly accurate assessment tool that districts could use to improve student performance.

It’s being replaced beginning this academic year (2009-2010) with a shorter measurement of student progress test for grades three through eight and a high school proficiency exam. Plans are underway to make the test available on-line by 2011.

In other district news, Molly Mitchell-Mumma, who has been a middle school language arts and social studies teacher with the Blaine school district since 2001, takes over this week as the new assistant principal at Blaine middle school.

She was hired at Monday night’s school board meeting to replace Aaron Smith, who has taken a position with the Camas school district.