Dorn Encouraged by State Testing Results
OLYMPIA — August 29, 2012 — Scores on statewide testing continue to show improvement, State Superintendent Randy Dorn said today.
His comments came as part of the official release of scores for the 2012 administration of the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), High School Proficiency Exams (HSPEs) and high school End-of-Course (EOC) exams.
“Students are continuing to make progress,” Dorn said. “Science and math scores are up in almost every grade. Those trends are due to the great work that our science and math teachers do every day, and the fact that we have new standards that are clear and address what students need now and in the future.”
Specifically, Dorn cited a 10.4 percent jump in fifth-grade science scores, from 55.7 percent of students passing in 2011 to 66.1 percent in 2012, as well as a 4.7 percent jump in eighth-grade scores, from 61.6 percent in 2011 to 66.3 percent in 2012.
“This is the second year students have been tested on the new science standards,” Dorn said, “and what we’re seeing is that students are learning the new standards. I also think schools are placing an increased emphasis on science at the earlier grades, and it’s paying off in test scores.”
Dorn added that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in the 2013‒14 school year, and the introduction of the Smarter Balanced assessment the following year, will require a different approach to the assessment system. “Coming soon, I’ll be promoting some major changes to the assessment system,” he said. “I’ll have details about that before the next legislative session.”
HSPEs and EOCs
Students in the Class of 2013 represent the first in Washington state who are required to pass a math exam to graduate. Of that group, 78.3 percent have passed a math exam, and a total of 74.0 percent — about three in four — have met all testing requirements for graduation.
“Those students will be seniors this year,” Dorn said. “They can retake the math EOC this winter or HSPEs in the spring if they need to, this winter or try one of the available alternatives. I appreciate schools and staff across the state that will spend extra time getting those students over the bar.”
Students in the 10th grade — most of whom are in the Class of 2014 — took the biology EOC exam for the first time this year. A total of 61.0 percent passed the test. Those numbers are encouraging, Dorn said, especially when compared to the 49.9 percent of students who passed the science HSPE in 2011. Although the federal government requires 10th graders to take a state science assessment, passing the biology EOC won’t be a graduation requirement until the Class of 2015.
The Class of 2014 continued to do well on the reading and writing assessments: 79.6 percent passed the reading HSPE and 83.0 percent passed the writing HSPE. That same class was the second group of students taking math EOCs. About three out of every four students passed either Algebra I (77.0 percent passed) or geometry (76.2 percent) in 2012 or 2011.
Students in grades 3‒8 showed mixed results compared to 2011. Each grade increased its math scores, except for fourth grade, which showed no change. Eighth-grade scores, in particular, increased by 5.0 percent, from 50.4 percent of students passing in 2011 to 55.4 percent in 2012.
Writing scores were stable, decreasing slightly in fourth grade (0.1 percent) and remaining flat in seventh, while reading scores showed increases in fourth, fifth and seventh grades and decreases in third and eighth grades; sixth grade scores stayed the same.
Graduation rates and opportunity gaps
This was the first year states were required to use graduation-rate calculations based on recommendations from the National Governors Association. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reported in the spring that, for the Class of 2011, 76.6 percent of students graduated on time.
“The good news is that the numbers are fairly close to the estimates that we’ve done for many years,” Dorn said. “But we need to do a better job of engaging students and doing all we can to make sure they graduate.”
Dorn added that he is also concerned about the gaps in graduation rates between student subgroups. In 2011, the most recent year for which OSPI has finalized data, Asian students graduate on time at the highest rate — 82.0 percent — followed by white students at 80.0 percent. Just behind that are students who report their ethnicity as two or more races, at 73.6 percent. Pacific Islanders, black and Hispanic students are 66.2 percent, 65.4 percent and 64.5 percent, respectively, and Native Americans graduate on time at a rate of 56.5 percent. Because these rates are now calculated using actual student data, rather than estimates, Dorn is confident that it will be easier to identify students who need extra help and provide it.
“Our goal is to educate all kids in Washington state,” Dorn said. “It’s clear there are kids who need targeted attention to get to graduation. With accurate, reliable information, it is more likely that they will receive the help they need.”
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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