Statewide student exam scores “mixed” for 2010

Math remains stiff challenge for Washington 10th graders

By

Published:

 

Click here to see how local 10th graders fared in the 2010 High School Proficiency Exam, and how 3rd through 8th graders fared on Measurements of Student Progress.

In a word, 2010 statewide student assessment test results disclosed in Olympia on Tuesday are “mixed.”

Which made state school Superintendent Randy Dorn happy, in one sense.

Because newly streamlined high school and lower-grade exams last spring replaced the much-maligned Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

With any wild swing in exam scores, news headlines would have read, “Dorn makes tests too easy” or “Dorn makes tests too hard,” the school chief said.

Click here to see how local 10th graders fared in the 2010 High School Proficiency Exam, and how 3rd through 8th graders fared on Measurements of Student Progress.

No worries on that count.

But, plenty to be concerned about, still:

• 10th grade math scores in 2010 dipped further, with only 41. 6 percent of high school sophomores passing the exam.

• 10th grade reading scores held about level with past results, while the pass rate for the writing portion stayed “dead-even flat” at about 86 percent, for a third straight year.

• 10th grade science scores rose significantly, but only 44 percent of students passed the exam — to become a diploma requirement in 2014 for this year’s incoming 10th-graders.

• At lower grade levels, pass rates bounced up or down across subjects — “mixed” results, for sure.

Given widespread teacher layoffs, loss of after-school tutoring or summer school programs and continued threats of reduced state spending since the Washington economy crashed in 2008, Dorn felt moved to declare success, of sorts.

“It’s been a real victory, that as resources have been taken away from schools, we hang on,” Dorn told news reporters at an Olympia press conference.

We’re doing the very best possible under the circumstances. We’re doing more, with less,” he said.

New exam format

Two revised, five-day tests this year replaced the eight-day WASL, which was launched in 1997.

Tenth-graders now take the High School Proficiency Exam, or HSPE. In grades 3 through 8, students take the Measurements of Student Progress, or MSP.

High school sophomores still must pass the HSPE or a state-approved alternative in reading and writing in order to graduate. Starting next spring, high school students must pass end-of-course exams for algebra and geometry courses to earn a diploma, rather than pass a comprehensive mathematics test.

At all grades, reading, math and science portions lasted one day each, as opposed to two days with the WASL. The writing portion still took two days. Also, about 25 percent of the state’s middle school students took the test online, including several hundred students in Clark County.

The exams still include multiple-choice and short-answer questions, but four-point essay questions that required responses of a page or more were eliminated on the reading, math and science tests. The writing portion of the exams still has essay questions.

For more on Clark County and statewide exam results, see Wednesday’s edition of The Columbian.

The state has posted the new 2010 scores online, at: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.

You can also search for local school results at http://columbian.com/datacenter/school_ratings_2010/