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Student scores 'solid' on latest tests

Bainbridge kids still make the grade.

Results from tests administered to third and sixth graders this spring – the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills measuring achievement, and the Cognitive Abilities Test of ability – show island students scoring higher than nearly three-quarters of the national student sample.

“The scores are solid – the trend is one of stability and success,” school Superintendent Steve Rowley said. “For the sixth grade in particular, the trend is a slight increase over last year.”

Since the ITBS test was first administered statewide in 1999 to assess reading comprehension, math computation and problem-solving, and grammatical proficiency, Bainbridge scores have held relatively steady.

Math scores, which appeared to be dipping slightly at the elementary level in 2001, surged to equal previous years.

Third-grade composite ITBS scores increased in reading, language and math. Sixth grade ITBS scores stayed level with 2001 or rose three or four percentage points in each area.

CogAT scores rose five to 10 percentage points in all the schools with a five-point fall-off from last year at Ordway in both verbal and nonverbal testing. That decline mirrors a 17-point dip in Ordway’s ITBS language testing.

“It should be noted that the data in this report depicts the performance of different groups of students, so small variations are to be expected,” said Faith Chapel, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the district.

Variations in national percentile rank of 2-5 percent may results from only a one or two-item change in student raw score performance, she said.

While the ITBS and the state-mandated WASL test both measure skills, the latter measure aptitude in “essential academic learning requirements” established for all Washington students.

Despite the differences in the standardized tests, educators say Bainbridge students’ ITBS and WASL scores are comparable.

“(The) results correlate highly,” Rowley said. “We’re always pleased to see our progress in WASLs reflected in high marks on the ITBS.

“Our efforts to have all kids meet high state standards through the WASLs also has a positive effect on more traditional assessment results.”

Bainbridge students’ scores on both of the national tests indicate students are working to ability.

Any significant difference would be a red flag, Chapel said.

“If you saw a big discrepancy between cognitive and skill-based testing – if the CogAT were high and the ITBS low – that would be cause for concern, because you’d have to wonder why kids were underachieving,” she said.

The scores will be used by staff at each school to help assess programs and address individual students’ issues.

Scores for school districts statewide will be posted online at www.k12.wa.us later this week.

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