- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - About half of Washington students earned proficient scores in new, more challenging tests in the first year they were given across the state, education officials announced Monday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said he’s pleased with those results. They meet expectations for the new tests and are better than what was expected nationally.

But no one is happy with the Common Core test results for the students who will be seniors in high school this year. They passed at much lower levels, in part because all the students who opted out of the tests this past spring were assigned a score of zero. When those zeros are added to the scores of students who actually took the tests, only 26 percent scored proficient on the new English language arts exam and only 14 percent got a college-ready score on the math test.

Dorn says the Legislature needs to make another attempt to fix the high school assessment system and should have passed a bill he supported this past session, which would have given tests a much lower weight in the graduation requirements.

At a news conference after the test results were released, he reminded parents and students that the assessments show how students are doing at one point in time.



Dorn urged parents to encourage their children to take the exams so they can know how they’re doing. About half of Washington’s eleventh-graders decided not to take the new tests known as the “Smarter Balanced” tests or the Common Core tests. They are based on the new national academic standards known as the Common Core.

Students did better on the previous statewide exams, with much higher proficiency numbers. But state education officials begged people not to compare the two very different exams.

“To compare the two. It’s unfair to both the students and the system,” said Gil Mendoza, deputy superintendent for K-12 education.

Mendoza pointed out that one reason so many of last year’s eleventh-graders did not take the Smarter Balanced tests was because many had already met the state standard on the old test as tenth-graders, so they have already fulfilled their graduation testing requirements. In the class of 2015, 91 percent of students have already met their testing requirements for graduation by passing tests or an approved alternative.

The results showed stark contrasts between how kids of different ethnic groups seem to be doing in Washington public schools. For example, on the 6th grade math test, more than 70 percent of Asian students met the proficiency standard. About 52 percent of white students met the standard, followed by 26 percent of black and Latino students, and 23 percent of American Indian, Alaskan Native and Pacific Islander students. Of students who identify with two or more races, 47 percent met the proficiency standard.

The achievement gaps were similar on the English exams. But everyone seemed to do better on English than on math.

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Online:

OSPI Test Results: https://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2015/StateTestResults.aspx

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