WASL scores worth the wait

Bainbridge High School students may have gotten their scores last, but they came in first.

Corrected scores for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning show that Bainbridge seventh and 10th graders nudged out Mercer Island for the top place in standardized testing statewide. The results scores had to be recalculated after their initial release two weeks ago, when the state’s scoring team mistakenly left out the scores of 46 students and skewed the results downward.

“I just continue to be impressed and gratified by our students’ performance,” school board president Bruce Weiland said.

Test results from spring 2004 showed 89 percent of Bainbridge High School 10th graders met or exceeded state standards in reading, up from 86 percent in 2003; 78 percent passed in math, up from 76 percent; 91 percent in writing, up from 86 percent, and 69 percent in science, up from the pilot test score of 58.

The sophomores exceeded state average scores by about 35 points in every academic area. The gap was greatest in science, a test that saw Bainbridge kids in both eighth and 10th grade with scores double the state mean.

Adjusted for the 14 high school students who did not take the test – each adding a zero to the cumulative score – BHS students fared even better, scoring 93 percent in reading; 82 percent in math; 96 percent in writing and 73 percent in science, passing Mercer Island’s 90 percent in reading; 70 percent in math; 93 percent in writing; and 72 percent in science.

Of 1,400 Mercer Island High School students, only two didn’t take the test, according to Mercer director of instruction and assessment Michael Power, so the scores reflect the true percent of students achieving proficiency.

Woodward Middle School seventh-graders made gains across the board, with the exception of the writing assessment. Reading scores jumped from 84 to 89 percent achieving proficiency; math went from 71 to 80; and writing from 84 to 78. Woodward eighth-grade students made gains in science, leaping from 65 to 72 percent.

The “bump” in science may be partly the result of changed student attitudes from last year’s “practice” test to this year’s “real” test, according to Deputy Superintendent Faith Chapel.

“Last year we didn’t have everyone take the field test,” Chapel said. “This year we had 99 percent involved. That makes a 4 percent difference.”

Odyssey Multiage program seventh graders gained 6 points in science, to score 71 percent. In other areas, scores slipped, going from 72 to 70 in reading; 69 to 61 in math; and 78 to 57 in writing.

And Eagle Harbor High School, with just 14 10th-grade students, had scores dramatically lowered by the three students who did not test. In reading EHH scored 43, but would have scored 55; in math 43 (45); in writing 36 (45) and in science 29 (36).

The Eagle Harbor WASL scores are being looked at to determine why they are lower than the BHS scores.

“We are still analyzing the data,” Chapel said. “Obviously this was the first year EHHS students took the WASL.”

At the grade-school level, Bainbridge fourth-graders scored 92 percent in reading; 83 percent in math and 79 percent in writing.

Starting with the class of 2008, students must earn a “Certificate of Achievement,” showing proficiency in the WASLs to receive a high school diploma. Students will have the opportunity to retest.

Alternative measures of achievement for students who qualify for special education funding, and a culminating project as an alternative to testing, are in the offing.

Statewide, students will have at least four opportunities to retake the test, which costs $27 to administer, in August and April of both junior and senior years, beginning in 2008 when passing is required for graduation.

“There will be ample opportunity for students to retest,” Chapel said, but, she notes, with scores consistently on the rise, relatively few should have to do so.

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