County, state test scores gently up

Amid slight overall gains, high schools' upswing in math, science stands out

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter


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Scores on standardized tests required of public school students showed a slight improvement in 2013 over 2012 statewide, according to the spring 2013 test results released Monday. Those trends are reflected in Clark County schools.

“There aren’t any dramatic changes from last year,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction. “But our scores are up on more tests than down.”

His comments came as part of the official release of scores for the 2013 administration of the Measurements of Student Progress for grades three through eight, and High School Proficiency Exams and End-of-Course exams for students in high school-level courses.

Statewide, passage rates increased in reading in every grade in 2013, except for seventh and eighth. The number of third-grade students who met standard in reading increased by 4.3 percentage points over 2012.

In math, the statewide percentage of students who met standard increased in grades 4 and 7, but decreased in grades 3, 5, 6, and 8.

End-of-course math, science

The most notable trend was a dramatic improvement in high school math and science end-of-course exams.

“In particular, I congratulate the Class of 2013 for their success in meeting a high bar on their exit exams,” Dorn said.

The percentage of students meeting standard in the biology exam increased by 10.6 percentage points in 2013, with 81.7 percent of students meeting the standard. It was only the second year the EOC exam was required by the state.

Statewide, the percentage of high school students who met standard in algebra I/integrated math I edged up 7.5 points from 2012 to 2013, with 75.9 percent of students meeting the standard in 2013. That increase was mirrored in results for geometry/integrated math II, with a 7.2 point increase — to 83.3 percent — of students meeting the standard in 2013,

Those increases in math and science were reflected in most Clark County school districts.

Vancouver Public Schools saw its EOC biology exam results increase from 63.4 percent who met the standard in 2012 to 79.9 percent in 2013. That’s still slightly under the state average of 81.7 percent who met the standard.

In algebra I/integrated math I, the Vancouver district’s scores increased from 65.3 percent meeting the standard in 2012 to 79.9 percent in 2013. The district is closing the gap between its scores and the state average, 80.7 percent, so that it lags by less than a percentage point.

In geometry/integrated math II, the Vancouver district’s high school students’ scores improved from 68.7 percent meeting the standard in 2012 to 86.7 percent in 2013.

“I’m very pleased with the results. I think the principals are pleased too,” said Mike Stromme, associate superintendent for teaching and learning at Vancouver Public Schools. “As the information is just rolling out, we’ll have additional time looking at the data and making plans for the next steps for these students.”

Stromme attributes the improved scores to extra help the district has been offering for the past few years. Stromme said the district’s academy programs include additional help during the school day and after-school programs with tutoring in particular courses.

“Across the district, we’re targeting supports and interventions to meet the personal learning needs of students in these content areas. Where they have struggled and perhaps have not passed the first time, we’re able to home in on what the specific needs of students or groups of students are. So teachers and principals work together. We’re always monitoring and adjusting those programs to meet the needs of students. “

The district’s middle school and high school principals “regularly review data together and have collaborative conversations about where the needs are,” Stromme said. “More specifically, those principals are having conversations with their building’s learning teams to target those support programs.”

That might look different from one building to the next, depending on the needs of the students, Stromme said.

In Evergreen Public Schools, the overall 10th grade scores increased in reading, but decreased slightly in writing. However, like in Vancouver, it’s Evergreen’s high school science and math numbers that saw notable increases. In the biology EOC, only 63.4 percentage of Evergreen students met standard in 2012. That increased to 79.9 percent in 2013, closing the gap on the state average of 81.7 percent.

The Evergreen district’s numbers in high school math also increased. In algebra I/integrated math I, only 70.7 percent of students met standard in 2012, but that increased to 81.5 percent in 2013. That number exceeded the state’s average of 80.7 percent. The district’s improvement for geometry/integrated math II also was dramatic. In 2012, 73.2 percent met standard, and in 2013, that number increased to 83.8 percent.

High passing rates

To be eligible to graduate from high school, students in the class of 2013 were required to pass a reading High School Proficiency Exam, a writing HSPE and one math EOC, either in algebra I/integrated math I or geometry/integrated math II. Statewide, more than 90 percent of 12th-graders met the standards in reading, writing and math.

“These passing rates are high,” Dorn said.

However, that doesn’t translate into a 90 percent graduation rate, he said. Beyond the standardized testing, graduating students also must accumulate the required credits and complete a high-school-and-beyond plan plus a culminating project.

The final on-time graduation rate for the class of 2013 will not be reported until February.

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4530;; Web editor John Hill provided assistance with the data.