September 12, 1997 in City

City Fourth-Graders Flunk New Tests, Too Spokane’s Scores Slightly Below Poor State Average

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane fourth-graders who took the state’s new assessments scored about the same as kids across Washington - poorly.

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.

Overall, that’s slightly lower than the state averages, which Gov. Gary Locke and state education Superintendent Terry Bergeson nervously released last week.

A top Spokane District 81 educator was quick to note Thursday that kids were tested on material they haven’t been fully taught yet.

“We have to remember that this is a test unlike any test that fourth-grade students have ever taken before,” said Associate Superintendent Cynthia Lambarth. “They were being asked to perform tasks more difficult than they’ve been taught before.”

The math portion of the assessment was especially different from typical standardized tests, Lambarth said.

“It asks students to go beyond the basic skills and solve problems and explain their thinking.”

The tests are an early step of a long-term plan to reform education, school administrators say.

But critics said educators are just making excuses for failing themselves - at education reform.

“It seems like they’re going around in circles and using a lot of excuses for things that don’t work,” said Donna Kuhn, past president of Washington Parents Coalition for Academic Excellence, a conservative parents’ group.

“They’ve been bringing reform in, and it’s still not working.”

District 81 principals will be reviewing the results for individual schools today, and making plans to improve them, Lambarth said. Teacher training will be a primary focus.

Here’s how Spokane fourth-graders fared overall: math, 21.6 percent; reading, 46.4 percent; writing, 41.6 percent; and listening, 62.6 percent.

District 81 was one of 261 Washington school districts to take the assessment test last spring.

Parents will get a look at individual test scores within the next couple of weeks.

, DataTimes


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