Blaine’s WASL test results show upward trend
By Jack Kintner
Last year’s math emphasis in the Blaine school district seems to have paid off in higher scores on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) tests. In all grade levels except the 10th grade percentage of students passing the math section of the WASL increased from last year. Those results showed a drop of nine points.
Blaine schools superintendent Ron Spanjer said that he was pleased that the emphasis on math skills put into place last year by district assessment director Deb Cummings has shown such quick results. “That makes the task in high school a lot easier,” Spanjer said.
“With the exception of grade 10, we see math results up at every grade (3-8) level from the previous year. We believe that the gains reflect the system-wide emphasis that we placed on math this last year and that over time we will see the impact of earlier (K-8) improvement on student performance at the high school level as well,” Spanjer said.
He added that a shift in emphasis this last year to intensified remedial instruction, including math labs, beginning at the ninth grade level should begin to show results in the scores of the upcoming 10th grade class.
Student reading test results in grades four, six, seven and ten all dropped but results in grades three, five and eight all showed improvement in reading and science.
Spanjer attributed increases in science results for all grade levels tested (five, eight and ten) over the previous year to cooperative work with WWU faculty. “Reading results are up substantially at grades 3, 5 and 8 over the previous year although we do see some decline in reading at the other grade levels tested,” Spanjer continued, “and writing is up at grade 7 and down slightly at grades 4 and 10 from the previous year. We will be analyzing the details over the next few weeks, and as with the other content areas, we will be considering applicable revisions to program goals for the coming school year.”
WASL is a series of tests designed to ensure that students learn what many educators feel are the foundational skills and knowledge essential to success in life. Results released Tuesday reflect testing that was administered last March and April to students in grades three through 10. Students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the WASL each spring in reading and math. Students also are tested in writing in grades 4, 7 and 10, and science in grades 5, 8 and 10.
WASL was instituted by the state legislature in 1993 and was phased in over a series of years. Passing the test became a graduation requirement this year for seniors who graduated last June. Subsequent legislation allows this year’s high school students (classes of 2009-2012) to graduate without passing the math WASL or one of the alternatives, but they must continue to earn math credits and take the WASL once a year until graduation if they do not pass. For more information, contact Cummings at 332-0720.