Tests back shared schooling

One measuring stick for how well students are performing in language learning and in two of the three Rs -- reading and arithmetic -- shows marked improvement for South Whidbey students in the third and sixth grades.

This seems to be especially true for students in South Whidbey's home-schooling learning cooperative.

Results of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, or ITBS, which are given to South Whidbey students every spring sounded pretty good Tuesday night when Dan Blanton, the district's assistant superintendent, talked about this year's results.

Scores were up in all subjects for both grades, but the most dramatic increase was seen in this year's third-grade students, especially those attending the Shared Schooling Coop. They jumped from the 63rd to 98th percentile in reading and in math from 44th to the 95th percentile.

SCOOP sixth-graders' reading score in 2002 was 76; this year it is 93.

However Blanton cautioned that there are fewer students in SCOOP than in the other buildings, which can affect the score.

South Whidbey third-grade students jumped from the 62nd to the 76th percentile in reading and from 59th to 82nd in mathematics. The district average for third-graders has increased from 62nd to 77th in reading and 57th to 82nd in math.

Blanton credits the district's new math curriculum for the better scores.

Langley Middle School sixth-grade reading totals were also up, from 65 to 75 this year; sixth-grade language and math totals were only 3 percent higher than last year.

On this test, a percentile score of 51 means a student scored better than 50 percent of students nationally.

The state requires all students in public schools to take the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills in the spring of their third-grade year. It is a multiple-choice, standardized test that focuses on basic skills in math and reading.

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