State test results are in, and officials in local school districts are satisfied with the first year of the new Smarter Balanced Assessments.
“There is much to celebrate in Camas School District’s first year results from the Smarter Balanced assessments,” said Lisa Greseth, director of teaching, learning and assessment in the Camas School District. “Much like training for a first marathon, there is celebration simply in having reached the finish line successfully and knowing we learned so much on the way.”
Mike Stromme, Washougal School District superintendent, noted the first year of results will provide a baseline of information that will guide the district’s focus on school improvement efforts.
“The results from the state testing demonstrate to us that we have much to be proud of in the achievement of our students in many areas and need to sustain that good work,” he said. “Given this was the first year of the administration of the new state assessment, we are pleased with the results.”
The Smarter Balanced Assessments replaced the Measurements of Student Progress in English language Arts and math. They are given to students in the third- through eighth-grade, and sophomores and juniors. These are designed to align with Common Core Standards.
Additionally, the Measurements of Student Progress in science is taken by fifth- and eighth-grade students, and end-of-course exit exams in algebra 1 and geometry are taken by some high school students. State tests have been taken since 2006, to help identify learning gaps and determine school and district Adequate Yearly Progress, according to a press release from the state superintendent’s office. Washington’s high school students are also required to pass certain tests or state-approved alternatives to be eligible for graduation.
In Camas, five schools piloted the Smarter Balanced tests last year.
“That experience was helpful in providing teachers and students an opportunity to learn first-hand what the tests looked like, explore the online student and management interface, and think about logistics, like scheduling technology resources,” Greseth said. “Information from the field test was shared across all schools. Perhaps even more helpful, the state of Washington invested in Smarter Balanced interim assessments, intended to be used throughout the school year to provide data on students’ current level of mastery of important skills.”
Washougal students did not participate in the pilot, so the assessment procedures and system were new to all.
“The assessments are very different than in the past with not only much more rigorous expectations focused on the Common Core State Standards, but the entire system of testing has changed,” Stromme said. “The assessments offer improvements over tests of the past, including writing at every grade level, different types of questions and performance tasks that require students to demonstrate a variety of writing and problem solving skills.”
Among Camas students, 77.2 percent of third-graders met standards in ELA and 80.6 percent in math; 79.1 percent of fourth-graders met standards in ELA and 71.7 percent in math; 77.4 percent of fifth-graders met standards in ELA and 67.5 percent in math; 76.9 percent of sixth-graders met standards in ELA and 64.8 percent in math; 83.2 percent of seventh-graders met standards in ELA and 67.8 percent in math; 80.7 percent of eighth-graders met standards in ELA and 72.4 percent in math, and 35.6 percent of 11th graders met standards in ELA and 21 percent in math.
“Results in these early years of the Smarter Balanced Assessment need to be used cautiously,” Greseth said. “We continue to deepen our knowledge and application of the new standards, and students’ learning experiences aligned with the standards will grow through successive grade levels.”
She noted that 11th grade results in Camas and across the state are significantly lower than results of all other grade levels.
“Test refusal rates at the 11th grade were very high,” she said.
In Washougal, 56 percent of third-graders met standards in ELA and 62 percent in math; 63.3 percent of fourth-graders met standards in ELA and 63.3 percent in math; 69.7 percent of fifth-graders met standards in ELA and 61.9 percent in math; 53.5 percent of sixth-graders met standards in ELA and 46 percent in math; 56.1 percent of seventh-graders met standards in ELA and 41.4 percent in math; 61.3 percent of eighth-graders met standards in ELA and 43 percent in math, and 25.6 percent of 11th graders met standards in ELA and 16.4 percent in math.
Statewide, 52 percent of third-graders met standards in ELA and 56.6 percent in math; 54.5 percent of fourth-graders met standards in ELA and 54 percent in math; 57.5 percent of fifth-graders met standards in ELA and 48 percent in math; 53.9 percent of sixth-graders met standards in ELA and 45.5 percent in math; 56.7 percent of seventh-graders met standards in ELA and 48 percent in math; 56.8 percent of eighth-graders met standards in ELA and 46.1 percent in math, and 26 percent of 11th graders met standards in ELA and 13.6 percent in math.
“The Common Core State Standards set significantly higher standards for students and our definitions for proficiency or grade level performance is much higher than it used to be as well,” Stromme said. “We are expecting more of students today and need to develop in our students a deeper understanding of key concepts and to help them apply real-world skills to be ready for college and work.”
Complete test results for each school in the Camas and Washougal districts are available at www.reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.