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Schools bid fond farewell to ITBS testing

This year’s results of Iowa Test of Basic Skills are being taken with a grain of salt because the results and the test are both out.

According to Linda Elman, the director of research and evaluation for the Central Kitsap School District, the ITBS test will no longer be administered in the district.

Third-graders took the assessment for math and reading, while sixth-graders took the assessment for reading, math and language.

The ITBS is used to monitor how well students perform in conjunction with other students at their own grade level. In contrast, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), which will continue to be given in CK schools, compares how well students perform compared to a specific standard.

Elman said the district has given the test for seven years. The tests take about 3 1/2 hours on each grade level.

She said the test result should be looked at over the long term, not on a year-by-year study.

“It’s really hard to look at individual (schools),” Elman said. “The kids can vary so much from year to year.”

This year, the individual school results were all over the chart (see right). At Cottonwood Elementary School, for instance, the sixth-graders made big gains all the way across the board. In reading, the sixth-graders’ average was in the 59th percentile, which means that on average, the sixth-graders scored better than 58 percent of their counterparts who took the test. Last year, the sixth-grade average was in the 52nd percentile. In reading, the sixth-graders jumped nine percentage points to the 68th percentile and in language, the percentile was up 11 points to the 68th percentile.

At PineCrest Elementary School, however, there were significant drops in the test scores for sixth-graders. Reading scores fell 13 percentage points from the previous year to the 43rd percentile, while math scores dropped six points and language scores dropped 11 points to the 46th percentile.

A number of factors could have contributed to the fluctuating scores, Elman said.

“It could be that people are not taking it seriously because they know this is the last year and it’s going away,” she said.

Overall, she said the test scores reflect a district in which the students are grasping basic concepts.

“What it tells me is that teachers are tending to the basics and kids are learning the basics,” she said.

Sue Corey, principal of PineCrest Elementary, said she will gladly reclaim the time it took to do ITBS testing back as instructional time for her classrooms.

In addition to ITBS tests, grades 3,4,5 and 6 had to do the WASL and sixth-graders had to do placement testing for junior high school.

She said she understands that the testing is necessary but she is glad to reclaim the instructional time at her school.

“That’s good information and we need to do it but somewhere the line has to be drawn,” she said.

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