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WASL results are a 'mixed bag'

"Local schools have made strides on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), but Central Kitsap School District officials still are waiting for certain grades and subjects to come around.Central Kitsap scores on the statewide assessment test were released Thursday. They will be discussed at the Wednesday, Sept. 13, meeting of the Central Kitsap School Board.It's (the scores) a mixed bag, said Assistant Superintendent Steve Chappuis. I'll be curious to see what scores look like across the state.Scores varied widely by school, making the district's overall score hard to read. The scores - measured in terms of percentage of students who met state standards - varied by as much as 20 percent.Elementary Education Director Jody Scott said the scores for fourth graders are right where the district wants them.We don't have any major concerns, Scott said. District fourth graders have steadily improved reading and math marks on the test, which was first administered in the spring of 1997. Seventy percent of CKSD fourth graders met standards on the reading test, up 18 percent from 1997; 43 percent met math standards, up from 26 percent in '97. Central Kitsap Director of Research and Evaluation Linda Elman said the scores are encouraging since the fourth graders, in a sense, have been preparing for the WASL since they were in first grade.In grade four we have seen a real sustained effort, Elman said. We're getting there.Writing and listening scores, however, have fluctuated - 35 percent of fourth graders met standards in 2000, up 8 percent from last year but still short of the 44 percent high in 1998. Eight percent fewer fourth graders met listening standards, the first such dip since 1997. Scott said factors such as special education, socio-economic development and parental involvement need to be taken into account when schools are looked at individually.The news was less encouraging for secondary schools, most of which performed at levels similar to or lower than last year. In the district's eight junior high, senior high, secondary and alternative schools, only seventh grade reading went up overall.At Olympic High School, fewer students met standards than last year in all four categories. Administrators said it is too early to determine why specific schools performed the way they did. I don't know if we have had time yet to see what is happening in those areas, Chappuis said. Administrators said teachers take the scores into account when they organize teaching plans. Split classrooms, a new math plan and a drive to get parents involvement up are all part of an overall plan to increase scores on the WASL in 10 percent increments every three years. Elman said state education administrators want scores to reach 80 percent. State administrators also have proposed that WASL scores be used as a factor in decisions regarding graduation and funding, beginning in 2008.Elman said there is still work to be done on how tests are prepared and administered before that happens. She said teachers in the district have commented on how difficult some parts were this year compared to previous years, especially on the writing portion of the tests. She also said the state Legislature is considering giving aid to schools who do not meet the standard as early as next year.Even though the district is not yet up to state standards, Elman is confident students eventually will meet the WASL challenge.We know that well-taught, hard working students can meet the standards, Elman said.Statewide WASL scores will be made available Tuesday, Sept. 12. "

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