WASL scores are a mixed bag for South End

There was some good and some bad, but nothing really ugly.

South Whidbey School District students showed mixed results in the latest WASL, the statewide learning test.

“Some of our scores went up, and some went down,” said Mike Johnson, director of teaching and learning and special programs for the district. “What we look for are patterns and trends.”

The annual Washington Assessment of Student Learning measures student progress in reading, math, writing and science.

Students in grades three through eight and 10 take the WASL each spring in reading and math. Students also are tested in writing in grades four, seven and 10, and science in grades five, eight and 10.

The WASL is a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-response questions. It has no time limits, so students can work at their own pace.

Johnson said an upward trend continues in the district in 10th-grade reading and writing, but that 10th-grade math scores have declined during the past two years.

Meanwhile, district seventh-grade scores are at or above state averages, he said, while the fourth-grade scores in reading, writing and math have generally declined, reflecting a downward trend across the state.

Grade-by-grade results,

THIRD GRADE: Scores were up in both reading and math from the previous year, and were higher than the state reading, compared to 71.5 percent the previous year and 70.4 percent in this year’s state average.

Third graders scored 73.6 percent in math, compared to 69 percent last year and 68.3 percent statewide.

FOURTH GRADE: Scores were down in reading, math and writing from the previous year. District students scored 74.5 percent in reading, compared to 80.9 percent last year, although they were slightly above the state average of 72.3 percent.

In math, fourth graders scored 39.9 percent compared to 52.5 percent last year and a statewide average of 53.4 percent.

In writing, district students scored 42.5 percent this year compared to 53.3 percent last year. The statewide average was 62.1 percent.

FIFTH GRADE: District scores were down in reading, math and science from last year. Students scored 76.5 percent in reading, compared to 83.5 percent last year, and 75.3 statewide.

In math, students scored 54.4 percent this year compared to 63.6 percent last year. The statewide average was 61 percent.

In science, students scored 27.9 percent compared to 36.4 percent last year and

42.9 percent statewide.

SIXTH GRADE: Reading scores were up, but math scores down. District students scored 71.4 percent in reading, compared to 64.7 percent last year and 68.6 percent statewide.

In math, students scored 50 percent compared to 54.3 percent last year and 54.3 percent statewide.

SEVENTH GRADE: Math scores increases slightly, but reading and writing dropped. Seventh graders scored 55.8 percent in math this year compared to 54.9 percent last year and

54.9 percent statewide.

In reading, district students scored 68.8 percent compared to 81.8 percent last year and

62.8 percent statewide.

In writing, district students scored 69.6 percent this year compared to 74.3 percent last year and 69.7 percent statewide.

EIGHTH GRADE: Students did better in reading and science but declined slightly in math. They scored 71.7 percent in reading, compared to 66.9 percent last year and 65.9 percent statewide.

In science, they scored 53.1 percent this year compared to 45.9 percent last year and

47.9 percent statewide.

In math, they scored 51.7 percent compared to 54.7 percent last year and 51.5 percent statewide.

10TH GRADE: Reading, writing and science scores were all up this year. Students scored 90.2 percent in reading compared to 87.1 percent last year and 81.3 percent statewide.

In writing, they scored 92.8 percent this year compared to 83.5 percent last year and

86.2 percent statewide.

In science, they scored 45.3 percent this year compared to 34.3 percent last year and

39.7 percent statewide.

In math, however, they scored 52.3 percent compared to 59 percent last year and 49.3 percent statewide.

Fred McCarthy, South Whidbey school district superintendent, said the scores often reflect the need for better strategies to teach students from low-income and other special populations in the district.

“Our scores are up and down as usual,” McCarthy said. “But over time our scores have improved.”

He said one area of improvement is Bayview School, which serves students considered to be the most difficult to teach. Bayview School scored high enough this year to be removed from the state’s list of schools not making adequate progress.

Johnson said the district will continue to evaluate materials and teaching strategies to look for ways to improve. He said the district plans to use state funds “to provide math and science staff development for our teachers.”

He said the district has purchased new language-arts materials for grades six through 12, along with new writing materials for grades kindergarten

through 12.

“It’s important to remember that the WASL is just one assessment tool to measure student achievement and inform our instruction,” Johnson said.

The Education Reform Law passed by the Washington State Legislature in 1993 required the state to create common learning standards for grades kindergarten through 10. The law also called for a testing system that measured student learning of those standards.

Students must show they have a certain level of skill in reading, writing and math to be eligible to graduate. Students have a variety of ways to meet the graduation requirement, and one is to pass the WASL.

Other data from the WASL showed that South Whidbey enrollment declined this year, 1,808 students compared to 2,061 last year. The number of teachers declined from 115 last year to 112 this year.

District on-time graduation was 83.9 percent this year, compared to 76.6 percent last year, and extended graduation was 89.4 percent this year compared to 79.3 percent last year.

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