Topic: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
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August 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Scores on Washington state’s exams in reading, writing, math and science remained essentially the same as a year ago, with some ups and downs, but few big ones.
In releasing this year’s scores, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn stressed that they have improved significantly over the past decade, but said that the year-over-year results were flat.
The picture was a little different from last fall, when the percentage of students who passed state science and math tests rose, but reading scores declined at some grade levels.
Dorn also announced the test results for the class of 2013, the first group of high school seniors that had to pass a math exam or approved alternative to graduate. About 90 percent of those seniors passed state reading, writing and at least one state math exam, or alternatives. Only about 3 percent failed to meet the state math requirement. Those numbers did not count about 3,000 students who dropped out before 12th grade.
All Washington students in grades 3-8 take state math and reading exams each spring, and writing exams are given in grades 4, 7 and 10. Students in grades 5 and 8 also take science exams, and high-school students take end-of-course exams in algebra, geometry and biology.
This is the third year that the state has given the tests known as the Measures of Academic Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exams (HSPE), which replaced longer tests known as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The high-school end-of-course exams were introduced two years ago, replacing a 10th grade math exam that covered both algebra and geometry.
Plans call for many of those tests will be replaced again as the state phases in new exams over the next several years that reflect a new set of learning standards known as the Common Core. Washington is among the states that has pledged to use those new learning standards, which cover reading and math.
April 17, 2013 at 1:24 PM
This year is the first year that high-school seniors must pass a state math test or an alternative to graduate, and as of today, about 3,730 have yet to do so.
Last month, that number stood at about 8,000, but about half of those students have since learned that they met the requirement by receiving a high enough score on a portfolio of math work or passing a state math exam given in January.
Students have had to pass state reading and writing tests since 2008, but lawmakers had delayed a requirement that they also pass math tests because so many students struggle with that subject. Calls for additional delays this year have not gained traction in Olympia, although some still question whether it’s right to deny a diploma to students who meet all graduation requirements except for the one in math.
To meet the new math requirement, students must pass an algebra end-of-course exam, a geometry end-of-course exam, or similar exams designed for math classes that combine those subjects. Students also can meet the requirement in a number of ways, such as earning a high enough score on college-entrance exams, or submitting a collection of math work, which is graded by the state.
But the 3,730 students who have yet to meet the math requirement now have few ways to do so by June. Some of those students also may not have enough credits to graduate but the state does not keep track of that number. Anecdotally, it appears many of the 3,730 would be on track to graduate if not for the new math requirement.
In all, nearly 84 percent of the class of 2013 has now met state graduation requirements in reading, writing and math. That leaves nearly 12,000 students who have fallen short in one or more of those subjects.
December 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn wants to continue to require Washington high-school students to pass just three exams to graduate, and urges state legislators to cancel plans that call for five such tests by 2015.
Students in the class of 2013 must pass exams in reading, writing, and one end-of-course test in math. For the class of 2015, students will be expected to pass two math exams, reading, writing, and a biology exam — a total of five tests.
If they fail any of the exams, students can show their skills in alternative ways, too.
Dorn says that five exams would be too much testing, and would cost too much money. Each end-of-course test, he said, now costs about $30 per student. And students who don’t pass have the option of submitting a collection or work, which costs an estimated $400 per student.
Dorn is proposing limiting the tests to three: a combined reading/writing exam, and end-of-course tests in algebra and biology.
“Testing is important,” Dorn said in a prepared release, “but over-testing creates a system in which too much classroom time is devoted to preparing for tests, taking tests and preparing to re-take tests or moving to alternatives when students fail to pass.”
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