More CKSD seniors meeting state math requirement — New state test a contribution

Last year, Conner Roberts felt like his 8th-grade math class was behind in the curriculum. There were areas on the state math exam that he didn’t learn about until after the test was taken.

This year, the freshman at Klahowya Secondary School, feels on track to do well on the state test that he will take at the end of the school year.

“Last year I struggled a little bit,” said Conner. “This year we’re prepared well.”

The fact that last year Conner took the math Measurement of Student Progress exam — the state test for students in grades 3 to 8 — in April compared to taking the Algebra end-of-course exam — the state test typically for freshmen — in June, may play a role in his attitude.

There is a 9 percent increase in the number of Central Kitsap School District’s high school seniors who have already fulfilled the state math requirement compared to the number the same time last year. Currently 83.8 percent of seniors have met the math requirement compared to last year’s 74.8 percent, according to information presented at the March 14 Central Kitsap School Board meeting. Administrators say a contribution to the increase is due to the math EOCs, with this year being the first time those scores are accounted for.

Seniors who have met the state reading and writing requirement are at 97.4 percent and 96.6 percent respectively. For the past three years, the numbers have hovered in that range for those subjects.

“I’m impressed with the math. Obviously good things are happening, but what is that?” asked board member Mark Gaines.

Franklyn MacKenzie, the district’s director of secondary education, said with the math EOC, students are taking the state exam after they have taken algebra and thus students are performing better.

“It’s typical across the state,” MacKenzie said. “It’s the first year using EOC.”

The math EOCs are given in the subject areas of algebra and geometry at the end of the school year. Only students who have taken those courses take the exam. The EOC was first given in spring 2011.

Algebra 1 is a course on par for the ninth grade curriculum so most of the students in teacher, Wendy Kraft’s class at Klahowya, including Conner, are freshmen. She however has students in the class that are in 8th and 11th grades, too.

Kraft, who has been teaching math at the school since 1997, said the EOC is an improved indicator of a student’s performance because it tests knowledge based on the curriculum. The curriculum is based on state standards and the EOC tests those standards or concepts.

“I think it’s better,” Kraft said of math EOCs. “It’s by course, not by grade level.”

Not only is it better because the students taking it are those who have learned the specific material, the timing the test is administered is better because it’s at the end of the school year, added Kraft.

Nathan Olson, spokesman for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, said there is no information available on trends of the EOCs because scores from this school year’s exams would not be available until later in the year since students have not taken the test yet.

Of students statewide who took the Algebra EOC last year, 64.3 percent met the standard. The state percentage of students who met the standard after taking the Geometry EOC is 73.5 percent. In the prior year, 41.7 percent of students in 10th grade and 51.6 percent in the 8th grade met the standard. The EOC exams are given to students in grades 7 to 12 who are in those respective classes.

“These are simply tests where you demonstrate what you know, instead of a comprehensive math test,” Olson said of EOC exams.

Students in the class of 2012 can meet the state math assessment requirement by passing the EOC — or the former WASL or the High School Proficiency Exam — at least once. If this requirement is not fulfilled, students are able to instead earn two credits of math after 10th grade. The EOCs are replacing the HSPEs.

Beginning with the class of 2015, students will have to pass two math EOC exams. If students do not pass the EOC the first time they take it, they have the opportunity to retake the exam.

At Klahowya, there are several intervention opportunities for students struggling in math. For instance, Kraft had a “classwide intervention” earlier this week for all students to retake a quiz. She said she was offering the retake to the entire class because a majority had not met the goal.

“You have to have standards to know what you’re teaching. The targets help teachers,” Kraft said of the state standards that make up her math curriculum.

Other interventions at the school include an academy period, which is a study hall-type session that all students attend four times a week. Struggling students are able to receive one-on-one help from a teacher or another student who is thriving in the subject. There is also after school tutoring available, said Kraft. The math interventions at Klahowya are not included in the secondary interventions program that could be reduced next school year due to potential district budget cuts. Klahowya’s programs come from its own school funding, said district spokesman, David Beil.

Although many classes will be taking an EOC for the first time at the end of this school year, many students are not worried.

For freshman Rachel Seidel, who is also in Kraft’s algebra class, testing is just part of school and students build up their math skills over the course of the year.

“It’s kind of routine,” she said. “You learn and hope you do well.”

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