Camas students excel on state tests

Washougal posts gains in several areas, but struggles with math

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Students in Camas continue to score well above average on all parts of the state tests.

Recently, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction released the results, which included the Measure of Student Progress, end-of-course exams, and High School Proficiency Exam.

“While scores in Camas continue to exceed state averages, we have focused efforts on growth and improvement, said Dana Lighty-Jones, director of teaching, learning, and special services. “We work to identify students who might not be at grade level and implement intervention and prevention strategies to assist and support them.”

All five Camas elementary schools have a reading specialist and two have a part-time math specialist.

“These specialists recognize students at risk of not meeting grade level standards through ongoing assessment and progress monitoring and respond with intensive instruction specifically designed to meet individual student needs,” Lighty-Jones said.

In the middle schools, an end-of-the-day “focus” class is designed to help struggling students, as well as increase the skills of those who understand the content. Teachers are able to re-teach content already delivered, or pre-teach it to give the students a foundation on which to build when in class.

At Camas High School, the Freshman Academy program features slightly smaller class sizes, team-teaching, and flexibility to individualize classes to help those who struggle, and provide enrichment to students who excel.

“The district has a philosophy of continuous growth for all,” Lighty-Jones said. “We recognize that our growth as professionals leads to growth in student learning. The district utilizes late start and early release time to meet in professional teams to discuss how to best engage and help students learn in all subjects.”

Washougal students also scored well in several areas, though they placed below state averages in math at the fifth- through eighth-grade level, and on the end-of-course math exams at the 10th grade level. However, they scored well above the state average on the biology exam. At Jemtegaard Middle School, writing scores increased from 65.7 to 82.8 percent. Students also posted gains in reading.

“The results in several areas are promising,” said David Tudor, curriculum director. “Teams of administrators and teachers are analyzing these data. This analysis will inform the district’s decision making in regards to curriculum needs, future instruction, practices and celebrating students’ success.”

The class of 2013 is the first that will be required to pass a math exam to graduate. In Camas, 100 percent of all eighth-graders who took the EOC math 1 exam passed, and 90 percent of all eighth-graders in Washougal met the standard.

At the 10th grade level, 91.2 percent of Camas sophomores passed the geometry exam, and 85.4 percent passed the algebra exam. In Washougal, 66.2 percent of sophomores passed the geometry exam, and 64.4 passed the algebra exam.

“Mathematics is an area for ongoing, targeted work,” Tudor said. “Last year, we established a mathematics leadership team. This group of teachers has worked to create greater alignment of instructional materials to the (state) standards. This group will also be the team of teachers that will support the district’s implementation of the common core state standards for mathematics. One benefit, along with the implementation our new teacher/principal evaluation system, is that we will be able to re-engage in conversations around improving instruction, especially for mathematics. The standards for mathematics are more focused, coherent and rigorous. This will involve shifts in our instructional system.”

He added that state standards are designed and written as if students have learned 100 percent of what was taught.

“Variety among students is a condition of teaching,” Tudor said. “As a district, we have to get better at diagnosing what it is that our students are missing and developing supports and interventions to support student learning.”

The Camas School District is a pilot district for the new teacher/principal state evaluation system.

“This provides staff with another opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues and share best practices for teaching and learning and ultimately student achievement,” Lighty-Jones said.