WASL scores are mixed — but encouraging

Central Kitsap WASL scores are back ... and the results are mixed, though generally encouraging.

Results of the state-mandated Washington Assessment of Student Learning test are the most anxiously awaited results of all tests given to school kids nowadays.

The CK School District received preliminary scores two weeks ago, and presented final scores Sept. 9. The test is administered in the spring.

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) plans to make passing WASL mandatory for graduation by about 2008.

“In the prelim results, there were some minor problems,” said Linda Ellman, director of research and evaluation. “A few kids were counted twice, and we had test results for kids from other districts accidentally mixed in with our results.”

“Compared to state scores, we made strong gains,” said Janell Newman, executive director of curriculum and instruction.

Local students who performed the worst compared to the state were seventh-graders.

Other interesting findings:

Newman said 10th-graders lacked “motivation” to take the test. “Many refused to participate, or would participate, but not answer open-ended (essay-style) questions.”

Ninety-two percent of 10th-graders took the test. Ninety-seven percent of both fourth- and seventh-graders took the test. She said latest studies have shown WASL to be as good a predictor of college success as the more popular SAT — the scores of which will be released next week.

“We only found one-tenth percent difference in the two tests’ ability to predict success in college,” she said.

There were sex differences, too, she added.

“Generally, in reading and writing at all levels, girls outperform boys,” she said. “In math, boys generally outperform girls.”

The district is adding several learning “coaches” or specialists in the grades and subjects suffering the lowest scores. This seems to work in other districts, said officials.

“I think it takes a while for these seeds to germinate,” said school board member Lee Ann Powers.

Here are the scores:

* Fourth-grade reading dropped slightly from 70 percentile to 68 percentile between 2001 and 2002. Math jumped from 45 percentile to 54 percentile. Writing went from 46 percentile to 47 percentile. Listening skills dropped from a high of 76 to 71.

(The term “percentile” is based on a national mean score of “students who met the standard” of a particular subject. The national mean is 50 percentile. Technically, this is not an “average” of scores, explained officials. A mean of 50 percentile indicates half of all students scored above 50 on the test and half were below.)

* Seventh-grade reading went from 41 to 44; math, 30 to 34; writing, 47 to 45; listening, 83 to 81.

* 10th-grade reading stayed at 72; math held at 45; writing jumped from 45 to 58; listening, 86 to 88 — the highest score reported.

Comparisons to past WASLs:

* Between 1997 and 2002, fourth-graders went from 52 to 68 on reading; 26 to 54 on math; 32 to 47 on writing; 66 to 71 on listening.

* Between 1998 and 2002, seventh-graders went from 35 to 44 in reading; 22 to 34 in math; 28 to 45 in writing; 80 to 81 in listening.

* 10th-graders, 1999 and 2002, 59 to 72 reading; 41 to 45 math; 41 to 58 writing, 76 to 88 listening.

Other than seventh-grade listening skills, which remained virtually flat (and high), there has been mostly improvements. Higher grade levels did a little better than lower grades.

WASL results by school:

* Fourth-grade best reading score was Silver Ridge, 80 percentile; worst was Woodlands Elementary, 50. Best math, Silverdale Elementary, 67; worst, Cottonwood, 32. Best writing, Emerald Heights, 62; worst, Clear Creek, 40. Best listening, Emerald Heights, 85; worst, Woodlands, 49.

* Seventh-grade, best reading, Central Kitsap Junior High, 49; worst was a three-way tie between Fairview Junior High, Klahowya Secondary School and Ridgetop Junior High, 43. Best math, tied between CKHS and FVJH, 37; worst, KSS, 31, all very low. Best writing, tied between FVJH and KSS, 48; worst, RTJH, 41. Best listening, CKJH, 86; worst, KSS, 78.

* 10th-grade, best reading, CKHS, 77; worst, KSS, 69. Best math, CKHS, 52; worst, OHS, 43. Best writing, CKHS, 62; worst, OHS, 43. Best writing, CKHS, 62; worst, KSS, 46. Best listening, CKHS, 93; worst, KSS, 88.

CK vs. state:

* Fourth-grade reading, CK was 68, state was 66 percentile; CK math was 54, state was 52; writing, CK 47, state 50; listening, CK 71, state 66.

* Seventh-grade reading, CK 44, state 45; math, CK 34, State 30; writing, CK 45, state 53; listening, CK 81, state 84.

* Tenth-grade reading, CK 72, state 59; math, CK 45, state 37; writing, CK 58, state 54; listening, CK 88, state 82.

(Alternative school scores and off-campus home-schooled students were not included in the above break-down.)

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