CK schools above state average on WASL

Central Kitsap schools scored well compared to the state average on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) standardized test. Our district's average was higher than the state's in everything in the fourth grade, said Janel Newman, assistant superintendent of curriculum for the Central Kitsap School District.In the seventh and 10th grades, students scored better than the state average in every category except writing. One of the biggest surprises was the low scores logged by off-campus students in all three test groups - fourth, seventh and 10th grades. But Linda Elman, the director of research and evaluation for the Central Kitsap School District, said there is a logical explanation.We encourage (off-campus students) to take the test but we can't require them, and the denominator is everybody enrolled. These are the types of parents who don't think the WASL is a good measure, Elman said.Students who don't take the WASL have their scores averaged in as zeros, which brings down the overall score.The WASL is a statewide assessment designed to measure whether students have mastered Washington's academic standards. Unlike other standardized tests, the WASL asks students not only to choose the right answers but to explain their thinking, write essays and figure out how to solve complicated math problems. Examined at the building level, Central Kitsap schools were all over the map. In math, for example, scores ranged from 63.7 percent of students meeting the standard at Emerald Heights Elementary to 19.7 at PineCrest Elementary.Many factors affected the range of scores from school to school, Elman said, including high mobility and the background of the students. Jackson Park and Clear Creek elementaries serve highly-mobile military dependents - 55 percent and 60 percent of students (respectively) transferred in and out of those two schools for the 1999-2000 school year. This impacts the school's ability to adequately prepare students for the exam.At Jackson Park they'll have students who walk into the school a week before and they'll be tested, Elman said.Emerald Heights might have received a boost from its self-contained gifted program. Students at Emerald Heights, Cougar Valley and Silverdale elementaries scored highest in fourth grade tests.Seventh graders seemed to struggle with the exam more than either of the other test groups, but students at Central Kitsap Junior High scored highest among CKSD schools. Among the 10th grade students, Central Kitsap High School had the greatest number who met the standard. A certificate of mastery - given to students who pass the WASL - could become a state high school graduation requirement by 2008.Until then, schools are expected to progressively improve their scores. The test was designed as a measure of accountability, and the Legislature eventually plans to implement a system to help schools which fail to meet state standards. There might also be consequences for schools which consistently score poorly.For now, the district's goal is to improve scores steadily until at least 80 percent of students meet standard, Newman said.

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