Officials in Pierce County’s four largest school districts offered comments on how their districts fared in last spring’s state testing.
Tacoma test scores trailed the state average in every category, but Tacoma kids are running hard to catch up.
In almost all grade levels of reading and math, Tacoma students moved the meter at least as many points as the statewide average, if not more.
“We made a shift two years ago to a new math curriculum,” Superintendent Carla Santorno said in a news release. “And last year we instituted a new literacy focus that’s showing early signs of success.”
Tacoma director of research and evaluation Patrick Cummings said kids in his district made strong gains in math.
“The state went up, but we had stronger gains,” he said.
In reading, Tacoma tended to “mirror the state,” he added.
Puyallup’s test scores beat the statewide results in every grade and subject and generally showed gains over 2010-11 scores.
Science scores increased across the board, with a double-digit-percentage-point gain in fifth grade. Seventh-grade reading jumped 15 percentage points over the previous year, with 75.7 percent passing compared with 60.7 percent in 2010-11.
Math scores also generally were up, especially on the end-of-course exams for high school math.
“We’re very excited about the strengths we have to build on here. (The scores) point to, I think, some good work that’s happening. We’ve really focused a lot on individual kids,” said Glenn Malone, director of assessment and accountability.
The district’s biggest dip was in third-grade reading; 72.2 percent of students passed, compared with 78.3 percent the year before.
Brian Loffer, assessment director for the Bethel School District, said he is pleased with score increases in middle school and upper elementary school math and reading, as well as science scores across all grade levels.
Reading scores dropped from the previous year in the early elementary school grades, with the biggest drop in third-grade reading, where scores went from 74.5 percent passing to 70.6 percent passing.
But Bethel kids beat the state average in at least six state tests, including 10th-grade writing, in which Bethel beat the state score by four points.
“We are pleased to see that we are maintaining the high percentage of high school students meeting standard in reading and writing,” Loffer said in a news release.
Bethel focused on offering support to high school seniors who still need to pass a state math assessment for graduation. The district provided assistance for students working on their “collection of evidence,” a portfolio of work they can submit as an alternative to testing to prove they have mastered subject material. Loffer said that in areas where the district has improved, it will continue programs such as “Making Middle Schools Work,” “High Schools That Work” and middle grades mathematics intervention.
Scores in the Lakewood district were a mixed bag, with some gains and some dips.
Math scores generally were up over the 2010-11 school year, especially in eighth grade and on the end-of-course high school exams. The district showed double-digit percentage point jumps or close to it in those cases.
Deputy Superintendent Doug Kernutt said the district stepped up teacher training in math, especially for secondary teachers.
Science scores also were up, and so were reading scores in four out of the seven grade levels tested. Writing scores dropped across the board.
In general, the district’s scores fell below statewide results.
However, “we do feel like we’re closing the gap some in terms of where the state is,” Kernutt said. “We plan to continue that.”