October 16, 1997 in Washington Voices

State’s New Assessment Exam To Test Problem-Solving Skills

By The Spokesman-Review

Question: Mr. Morales wants to cover the 20-by-8-foot wall of his family room with brick.

The face of the brick chosen is 7-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches, and the mortar space between bricks is a 1/2-inch wide. How many bricks will Mr. Morales need altogether to completely cover the wall?

Now some might say what Mr. Morales needs to do is hire an interior decorator to do the job. But that answer won’t be satisfactory for Spokane’s seventh graders who will see the question on a test this spring.

District 81 officials gave 30 North Side parents a peek at the state’s seventh-grade assessment test at Garry Middle School last week.

Officials wanted parents to see what their kids will face on the test.

Garry principal Carl Crowe distributed examples of past exams and compared them to what state educators are asking students to do on the new exams.

In past assessment tests, students might have been shown a picture of the moon, sun, Earth and Saturn. Then they would be asked to mark which one was at the center of our solar system.

“It’s not a fill-in-the-blank, circle-the-bubble, multiple choice test anymore,” Crowe said. “Students are being asked to solve problems and explain how they came to their conclusions,” Crowe said.

Question: A bagel store makes charts to help them predict sales for the following week. Last week, 200 shoppers came into the store and bought 146 plain bagels, 40 onion bagels, 111 bagels and 95 egg bagels. Suppose 300 shoppers come into the store next week. Based on 200 shoppers, explain how you could predict how many of each kind of bagel will be sold. Explain your answer using words, numbers, and/or pictures.

Valentin Bovdyr, a sixth grader at Longfellow Elementary School, attended last week’s test sampling with his mother, Nadia Bovdyr.

During the review session he frequently scratched his head with uncertainty. Bovdyr said he’s a little intimidated by the test even though he’s still more than a year from taking it.

“I’m scared of taking the test,” Bovdyr said. “Everyone is talking about it. It sounds like it’s going to be really hard.”

Nadia Bovdyr said she brought her son to the meeting to ease his fears. She also wanted to get a better understanding of what it is her son needs to know in order to pass the test.

Fourth graders in Spokane took an assessment test in the spring. Only 21 percent met or exceeded standards in math, and fewer than half achieved reading and writing standards. Students fared best in listening where 62 percent met standards.

District 81 was one of 261 Washington school districts to take the assessment test last spring. It cost the state nearly $1.8 million to test 62,000 fourth-graders statewide.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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