School test results mixed on Twin Harbors
Schools on the Twin Harbors reported mixed results as standardized test passing rates for 2013-14 were released Wednesday by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
MSP or Measurement of Student Progress tests are taken at all levels except at the high school. The 10th graders take the HSPE (High School Proficiency Exam).
This year’s test results carry a bit more weight, since the U.S. Department of Education refused to renew Washington State’s waiver from some of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, including the reporting of “adequate yearly progress.” Without the waiver, schools could be forced to divert some of their federal Title 1 funding to specific programs prescribed by the law if they don’t make adequate yearly progress, taking those funds away from other programs. Title 1 funding supports low-income students.
According to the OSPI, of 295 school districts in the state, just 22 met the adequate yearly progress requirement. At the school level, just 260, out of more than 2,100 elementary, middle and high schools statewide, made adequate yearly progress.
Many Harbor districts and individual schools are in some level of “school improvement” under the law due to not making adequate yearly progress.
Missing from today’s MSP test results release were Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Montesano and McCleary school districts, who participated in field testing for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The results of the field test were not compiled and released, so those districts do not have test results for the elementary and middle-school grades that took the new assessment.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is working to develop the new test that is in line with so-called “common core” standards in English, language arts and math.
Though the Legislature has yet to finalize all the details, the plan is for Smarter Balanced tests to replace the reading and writing portions of the MSP for this school year. High school juniors will also take a Smarter Balanced test, but it will not be a graduation requirement until the Class of 2019, according to the OSPI. Currently, high school sophomores must pass the HSPE to graduate.
Hoquiam Superintendent Mike Parker noted the mixed results in his district. “we’ve been busy, boy, we have been busy over the past many years with the purpose of wanting to improve and doing all we can to improve.”
The HSPE scores in reading and and writing did drop slightly to 82 percent and 83 percent respectively. “Kids are all different aren’t they?” Parker said. The high school had “really good groups” that scoreD in the 90s a year or two ago, he said.
“We are not where we want to be, but we are not disappointed either,” Parker added. The scores were competitive, he added.
The 9th grade showed some gains and “we have been working hard with our middle school,” where an OSPI coach has been working with the principal and teachers, he said. The students benefited from that work. “We are on the right track there,” he said. “We didn’t quite see the gain we want” in 6th and 7th grade, he said.
Skill groups, where students of like abilities are grouped together, are helping in elementary ages, he added.
Scores dropped in math and writing for 4th and 5th grade, and Parker said OSPI coaching will be added to Central Elementary to help it meet yearly progress this year.
The staff met Tuesday to emphasize personalizing teaching so that each student feels they have an adult advocate, Parker said.
“We have to be prepared to dig deep to reverse the trend at Central,” he said.
“We don’t want any students to fall through the cracks,” he said. “It’s not realistic that 100 percent of the kids meet reading and math standards.”
Part of the challenge is that students with special needs such as fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, or “social and emotional deficits” are expected to do as well and judged in comparison to other students, he said.
That is the “challenge across all of our schools, we have got to focus and find a way to move those kids higher and we are doing that in middle school,” he said.
Aberdeen and other districts
Aberdeen’s only reported scores — its 10th-grade scores — were higher than last year and close to the state average.
Montesano’s reported scores showed optimistic trends. All of the district’s scores in the 7th, 8th and 10th grades were up except for math in the 7th and writing in the 10th grade.
Pacific County schools had some good news to report, as well. Tenth-graders in Raymond outdid the state average in writing, though they dropped in reading. Willapa Valley 10th-graders scored higher than the state average in both reading and writing.
Elementary students in the Wishkah Valley also did well, particularly in 4th grade where math and writing scores hit the 90th percentile, though reading dropped below 60 percent.
Ocosta Schools reported increases in virtually every grade and every category except the 5th grade, which fell in reading and math. Seventh-graders reported lower math scores, as did 4th-graders.
“We were very happy with the results, we are still analyzing them,” Ocosta Superintendent Dr. Paula Akerlund said. “We are actually looking at what our strategies for even hopefully strengthening our scores are … yeah, we were pretty pleased.”
Unlike Hoquiam, Ocosta did not have to send a letter to parents saying they have failing schools.
“We are one of those districts that did not fail, we had certain subgroups where we did not make AYP overall results (but) we did not have to send a letter to parents saying we were ‘failing schools.’ ”
With the changes next year to standardized tests and the move to common core, Ocosta is in the same boat as most everyone else. “We are just looking at all that right now,” she said.
August 26, 2014 | SEATTLE, WA – Washington STEM announced today nearly $4 million in investments in innovative, regionally based programs aimed at improving teaching and learning of science, engineering, technology, and math across Washington state.
The statewide nonprofit's investments have two main focuses: (1) Continuing the growth of regional STEM Networks across the state and (2) Expanding its cutting-edge professional development initiative to help teachers with implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
"These investments will bring STEM professionals, educators, and communities together to improve STEM education and prepare our students for the STEM careers that drive Washington state's economy," said Patrick D’Amelio, Washington STEM CEO. "The networks will improve STEM education coordination in their community and across the state; and rigorous, high-quality teacher professional development will help ensure students in the classroom are STEM literate."
Regional STEM Networks
Subject to meeting specific grant requirements, each of the seven regional networks will receive $200,000 over the next three years to partner with Washington STEM and continue growing systems in which educators, employers, and community leaders work together to match STEM education to STEM career opportunities in their communities. STEM Networks have been created in seven regions around the state: Mid-Columbia (Tri-Cities), Snohomish, South Central (Yakima), South King County, Southwest Washington, Spokane, and West Sound (Bremerton). While working with Washington STEM to meet grant guidelines, each network is tailoring their approach to unique regional needs and opportunities. Detailed descriptions of the networks can be found at www.washingtonstem.org/stem-networks.
"The grant will bring STEM professionals into classrooms and students into STEM work places in south-central Washington communities and build programs that train our young people for the jobs of the future," said Jeff Charbonneau, ESD 105 STEM Coordinator and 2013 National Teacher of the Year. "The investment will help bring our plans to fruition and learn best practices from STEM Networks across the state."
Math and Science Professional Development
The STEM Networks help stream innovations into the schools including the teacher professional development initiative known as STEM-PD. Building on a pilot project in the Anacortes, Nooksack, Bellevue, Renton, and Highline school districts, Washington STEM is investing $2.5 million to expand the STEM-PD initiative to 45 schools statewide, the majority of which are in STEM Networks. Additionally, six teachers will be participating individually to share their practice to teachers across the initiative as they explore new ways to use technology in their professional learning.
"The key to successful STEM learning is excellence in STEM teaching," said Sandi Everlove, Chief Learning Officer at Washington STEM. "Washington STEM's professional development innovations will help spread best practices and help teachers share ideas and techniques around the state and beyond.”
The professional development initiative uses state-of-the art technology that enables teachers to take charge of their own professional learning. With this technology, teachers can collaborate, share and learn from one another, and request real-time coaching.
“This technology helps me overcome big constraints, like location and time, to provide personalized and high quality professional development to teachers,” said Bethany Sjoberg, Science Coach at Highline Public Schools. "I look forward to sharing this with teachers around Washington state as we prepare all our students for a world in which STEM education is vital."
For a list of schools participating in the professional development initiative, go to www.washingtonstem.org/stem-pd
About Washington STEM
Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit advancing excellence, equity, and innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Launched in March 2011 with support from the business, education, and philanthropic communities, our goal is to reimagine and revitalize STEM education across Washington. For more information, go to www.washingtonstem.org