January 11, 1996 in Washington Voices

Student Test Scores Only A Part Of School Picture, Principals Say

By The Spokesman-Review
 

This time every year, when school standardized test scores are reported, school principals dust off their Paul Harvey impersonations and tell the media they have “the rest of the story.”

They say test scores should not be taken at face value and that several factors - from the breakfast kids ate the day of the test to the amount of pretest preparation they were given - tremendously affect how students score on the tests.

Because of the variables, educators say the importance of the standardized tests - given to fourth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students at all public schools - is overblown.

“It’s a picture of one group of kids on a certain day,” said Cris Welch, principal of Lidgerwood Elementary in northeast Spokane. “That’s not the only kind of assessment that needs to be reported to parents.”

But when tests scores drop, as they did at Lidgerwood last year, the school hears about it. The total battery score at Lidgerwood fell almost in half, to the 25th percentile.

This year, scores are back up to the school’s five-year average near the 50th percentile. Lidgerwood’s average math score was at the 68th percentile, one of the best in North Spokane.

The difference illustrates the impact variables can have. Some of them:

Physical changes that affect students’ emotions. A fire during the summer burned several classrooms and disrupted the students, Welch said. This year, the rooms are repaired and the scores back to normal.

Socio-economics. Holmes Elementary, in the West Central neighborhood, has the highest percentage of low-income students in the district and the lowest test scores.

Woodridge Elementary, in the Indian Trail neighborhood, has the lowest percentage of low-income students and the highest test scores.

Preparation. Several schools have begun teaching basic test-taking skills, including maintaining a consistent pace and not guessing. Some schools also make sure their students had a solid breakfast. If they haven’t, some offer a pretest snack.

Percentage of students tested. The state has guidelines on which students can be exempted, but questions arise when test scores rise and the percentage of students tested drops. Lots of absentees or a high number of special education students, who can be exempted, can effect the percentage.

Schools testing fewer than 80 percent of their students should be questioned, according to state testing director Bob Silverman. All North Side districts are above that.

Smart kids. Westview Elementary forth-graders this year scored 27 points higher than students last year. Westview Principal Midge McGilvray was at a loss, other than to say the kids were smart.

“I wish I knew,” McGilvray said. “I would patent it.”

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

TEST SCORES Here’s a look at the 1995 results of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills for North Side schools:

%% ENGLISH/ HISTORY/ GRADE 11 LANGUAGE SOC. SCIENCE MATH SCIENCE Mead 61 59 64 55 Riverside 48 49 53 46 Deer Park 58 55 60 48 Nine Mile Falls 47 52 52 48 District 81 North Central 46 45 64 54 Rogers 37 36 53 42 Shadle Park 52 55 53 57

TOTAL GRADE 8 READING LANGUAGE MATH BATTERY Mead Mead 66 61 66 65 Northwood 68 64 68 68 Riverside 50 46 46 53 Deer Park 49 49 53 51 Nine Mile Falls 60 59 59 60 District 81 Garry 46 40 44 44 Glover 44 43 46 44 Salk 62 60 59 61 Shaw 44 45 42 43

TOTAL GRADE 4 READING LANGUAGE MATH BATTERY Mead Brentwood 58 60 62 62 Colbert 61 58 55 59 Evergreen 58 58 63 62 Farwell 47 52 49 51 Meadow Ridge 49 52 53 52 Midway 56 53 53 56 Shiloh 48 61 56 55 Riverside 48 52 51 50 Deer Park 50 54 60 60 Nine Mile Falls 56 66 54 60 District 81 Arlington 40 47 51 48 Audubon 26 24 24 23 Balboa 61 56 61 61 Bemiss 42 44 55 48 Browne 42 46 55 48 Cooper 49 53 58 54 Finch 57 64 56 60 Garfield 34 30 30 30 Holmes 22 21 18 18 Indian Trail 56 57 49 56 Lidgerwood 49 47 68 55 Linwood 49 58 48 52 Logan 37 31 39 35 Longfellow 43 47 42 48 Madison 59 74 70 69 Regal 25 25 23 23 Ridgeview 50 51 58 53 Stevens 36 40 40 38 Westview 57 58 66 67 Whitman 38 38 42 39 Willard 47 44 42 43 Woodridge 63 72 70 71 %%

This sidebar appeared with the story:

TEST SCORES Here’s a look at the 1995 results of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills for North Side schools:

%% ENGLISH/ HISTORY/ GRADE 11 LANGUAGE SOC. SCIENCE MATH SCIENCE Mead 61 59 64 55 Riverside 48 49 53 46 Deer Park 58 55 60 48 Nine Mile Falls 47 52 52 48 District 81 North Central 46 45 64 54 Rogers 37 36 53 42 Shadle Park 52 55 53 57

TOTAL GRADE 8 READING LANGUAGE MATH BATTERY Mead Mead 66 61 66 65 Northwood 68 64 68 68 Riverside 50 46 46 53 Deer Park 49 49 53 51 Nine Mile Falls 60 59 59 60 District 81 Garry 46 40 44 44 Glover 44 43 46 44 Salk 62 60 59 61 Shaw 44 45 42 43

TOTAL GRADE 4 READING LANGUAGE MATH BATTERY Mead Brentwood 58 60 62 62 Colbert 61 58 55 59 Evergreen 58 58 63 62 Farwell 47 52 49 51 Meadow Ridge 49 52 53 52 Midway 56 53 53 56 Shiloh 48 61 56 55 Riverside 48 52 51 50 Deer Park 50 54 60 60 Nine Mile Falls 56 66 54 60 District 81 Arlington 40 47 51 48 Audubon 26 24 24 23 Balboa 61 56 61 61 Bemiss 42 44 55 48 Browne 42 46 55 48 Cooper 49 53 58 54 Finch 57 64 56 60 Garfield 34 30 30 30 Holmes 22 21 18 18 Indian Trail 56 57 49 56 Lidgerwood 49 47 68 55 Linwood 49 58 48 52 Logan 37 31 39 35 Longfellow 43 47 42 48 Madison 59 74 70 69 Regal 25 25 23 23 Ridgeview 50 51 58 53 Stevens 36 40 40 38 Westview 57 58 66 67 Whitman 38 38 42 39 Willard 47 44 42 43 Woodridge 63 72 70 71 %%

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