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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Math, science test scores up

Reading comprehension, writing scores slip in area

From Staff And Wire Reports

Statewide test results released Wednesday show more Washington students are passing their science and math exams.

Spokane Public Schools, Mead and East Valley school district students improved math scores in all grades in which assessments were given, third through eighth and 10th, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Central Valley sixth-graders’ scores dropped 1.2 percentage points, while in West Valley third- and fifth-graders tested lower than last year.

“I’m very impressed with our math scores, and we just need to keep working on improving,” said Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger. “There are more changes coming with math in the Common Core. It’s going to get more rigorous, so this is good news that we are improving.”

Common Core is a new national curriculum standard that will be introduced this year.

But perhaps the most promising news for Spokane-area districts was that 76 percent or more of the students are passing the end-of-year math exams. Mead School District was the highest, with 88.6 percent, state data show. The class of 2013, soon to be seniors, is the first class required to pass the exam to graduate.

Statewide, 78.3 percent have passed the math exam, and 74 percent of those students have met all their state testing requirements.

Students in the class of 2014 took the biology end-of-course exam for the first time this past school year, and 61 percent passed the test. That’s an improvement over the number of students in past years who passed the general science exam.

Statewide, some of the most significant improvements were in the science passing rates in fifth and eighth grades. About 66 percent of those grades passed their science exams last spring, while last year’s passing rates were 55.7 percent in fifth grade and 61.6 percent in eighth grade.

Reading passage rates were down slightly in third, eighth and 10th grades, and writing pass rates dropped a bit in 10th grade.

All Spokane-area school districts’ third-graders, with the exception of Mead, followed the state trend. But Spokane-area eighth-graders’ scores improved in every district except Spokane Public Schools, which dropped 4 percentage points.

“What I’d like to do is drill down on the reading scores” and focus on specific areas of trouble such as fiction or comprehension, Redinger said. “Where is it that we’ve gone down … that will be really important information as we move into the future.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said a new emphasis on science in earlier grades and end-of-course exams in high school seem to be making a difference.

But Dorn is still concerned about lower pass rates among children from various ethnic groups, which also have higher dropout rates.

“We’re losing half of our Native American students, and we must do better,” Dorn said.