School testing results released last week show Kitsap County students in line with state averages, but a wide discrepancy exists across local school districts.
The state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction “report card,” released on Sept. 10, shows students in the Bainbridge School District far outpacing statewide averages for proficiency on math and English language arts, while students in the Bremerton School District and the South Kitsap School District lag behind.
The computer-based tests were administered to students in grades 3-10, excluding ninth graders. The annual exams, required by law, are written by Smarter Balanced, an educational consortium used in 12 states to provide annual tests aligned to Common Core national standards.
The results show 79.8 percent of students on Bainbridge met state standards for English and math proficiency this year, compared to only 54.1 percent in South Kitsap and 43 percent in Bremerton.
Central Kitsap and North Kitsap tested near state averages, at 59.3 percent and 57.1 percent respectively for English and math. Across Washington, 59.4 percent of students tested met standards, which are meant to mark progress on “mastering the academic knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness,” the OSPI website states.
The figures are also meant to “help schools evaluate how well their students performed by comparing them with students from other schools,” an overview states.
The tests are computer adaptive, meaning questions get harder the more correct answers the student gives.
While test results diverged in the county, state OSPI figures show comparable spending among districts across Kitsap. Despite having the lowest scores, Bremerton led the county’s five major school districts with $12,350 in total spending per student during the 2016-2017 school year, the most recently available figures show. South Kitsap spent the least, at $11,204 per student. The other three districts fell in between, except for the Suquamish Tribal district, which enrolled only 72 students and spent more than twice as much per pupil.
But while spending in Bremerton was higher, average teacher salaries were the lowest in the county, according to 2017-2018 data. Last school year, Bremerton spent an average of $65,686 per certified teacher, including insurance and other benefits – more than $5,000 less than the next-lowest district, South Kitsap. Teachers in Central Kitsap were paid the most in salary and benefits at $76,061 per year.
Another area in which figures diverge is income levels, where the numbers are striking. According to OSPI data, 62 percent of Bremerton’s students were classified as “low income” last school year, while in the Bainbridge School District, just 6.9 percent were. Central Kitsap, North Kitsap and South Kitsap all had between 32-38 percent low income students, according to the report.