Local students post modest gains on state tests

Camas and Washougal districts focus on individual student growth

To view the full Washington State Report Card for each district and the individual schools, visit www.reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.

To view the full Washington State Report Card for each district and the individual schools, visit www.reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.

Students in Camas continue to score well above average on all parts of the state tests, while Washougal students posted gains in science and reading.

Last week, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction released the Washington State Report Card, which included the Measure of Student Progress, end-of-course exams and High School Proficiency Exam.

“(The scores) are a credit to the amazing students who work hard, receive strong parent support at home and our talented teachers and support staff,” said Jeff Snell, Camas School District deputy superintendent. “Even though the state assessments are important, they aren’t our primary focus. We have a collective focus on growth for each student. That focus carries over into our state assessment scores. We are very fortunate to have the resources our community provides to support amazing learning opportunities for students.”

David Tudor, Washougal School District curriculum director, is pleased to see gains in reading and science. Most notably, science scores increased from 67.2 percent of students meeting standards to 78.6 percent at the fifth-grade level, while reading was up from 67 to 77 percent at the eighth-grade level.

“All of our buildings had goals in these subject areas this year,” he said. “The teachers have been targeting those areas and there is a collaboration between staff at the different buildings. Making gains is something to celebrate. The teachers work really hard and it’s nice to see the payoffs.”

In Camas, some students piloted the new Smarter Balanced Assessment exams, which will replace the MSP this year. Washougal declined to participate in the program.

“We knew that if we piloted the Smarter Balanced Assessment, scores from the prior year would roll forward, and the buildings wouldn’t receive (the same) data regarding whether they made gains,” Tudor said.

He added that students will take practice exams to prepare for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is considered a more rigorous test.

Washougal middle school students continue to struggle with math, with 56.1 percent meeting standards at the sixth-grade level, 51 percent at the seventh-grade level and 58.2 percent at the eighth-grade level. This is fairly consistent with state averages this year, but Tudor would like to see improvement. He noted the district is in the process of adopting a new middle school math curriculum that will be more closely aligned with Common Core standards.

“There will also be a technology component in there since we have a 1-to-1 iPad ratio in middle school now,” he said. “Math is definitely an area we need to focus on.”

The district has also added instructional math coaches at the elementary school level, which Tudor hopes will translate into improved performance.

In Camas, students posted modest gains in reading at the third-grade level, from 83.8 percent to 88.9 percent meeting standards, while fourth-grade scores decreased slightly on writing tests, from 79.5 percent meeting standards to 73.6 percent.

Snell noted that trying to analyze the data is difficult because not all of the students took the MSP. As a result, approximately 25 percent fewer students participated in the reading test.

“That being said, we can use the data more effectively at the school and student level,” he said. “We support collaborative processes for teams to use learning data to help make instructional decisions. State assessment data provides one piece of the puzzle to help us understand how to support student learning. We also use district, school and classroom level data. The goal is to use the data to help us identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

With the transition to the new testing system, the district has invested in professional learning systems to help staff with the change.

“We’ll be asking our students to perform at a higher level, so we’ve got to engage and support them at higher levels,” Snell said. “We want to improve every day in teaching and learning so that we can make a greater positive impact on our students…We want to prepare students for opportunities to meet their goals and aspirations and to change the world in a positive way.”

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