For district by district and school by school test score results, go to the OSPI website.
Test scores for Washington students may have reached a plateau, state education officials said Monday.
And pushing through to the next level -- as well as helping students meet higher standards coming soon -- will require a greater public investment, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn.
“If you are going to make that next breakthrough leap,” he said in an interview with the News Tribune, “those (remaining) students are going to take more investment of time, resources, extended school days or school years.”
The state released results Monday for standardized tests taken by public school students in grades three through eight, and at the high school level, in the spring of 2013.
Scores for elementary and middle school students were largely flat.
“There is little movement up, little movement down,” Dorn said.
But among high school students, the numbers told a slightly different story -- possibly because there’s more at stake on those tests: graduation. End-of-course math tests for high school-level students climbed more than seven points over 2012; end-of-course biology scores rose by more than 10 points.
Overall, 90.5 percent of the state’s class of 2013 passed all three state tests required to earn a diploma: in reading, writing and math. This was the first high school class required to pass a state math exam or alternative assessment to graduate, on top of the usual state reading and writing exams. The biology assessment or another science test will become a graduation requirement for the class of 2015.
Figures released Monday showed that just over 3 percent of seniors who should have graduated in June failed to pass a math assessment, while 4 percent still needed to pass all three subject exams or alternatives.
Dorn said that while those numbers are cause for concern, some had predicted the percentage of seniors passing the math tests would be significantly lower.
And Dorn’s deputy, Alan Burke, noted that many high school students who didn’t pass the state exams are the same students who didn’t have enough credits to graduate.
Statewide, reading scores were up slightly over the previous year for students in grades three through five, as well as in grade 10. Third graders saw the biggest boost, with the percentage of students meeting reading standards up more than four points, to 73 percent.
Dorn said that increase is significant because third grade is the first year of state tests for Washington students.
“These are kids who haven’t had a (state) assessment score before,” he said. “We have put a lot more emphasis on early learning.”
In Tacoma, where test scores have traditionally lagged statewide averages, that pattern continued. But Tacoma students mirrored state trends in terms of gains and losses.
“Things were relatively flat, with few exceptions,” said Patrick Cummings, Tacoma’s director of research and evaluation.
For many grade levels, however, Tacoma’s numbers appear to be heading in the right direction.
Cummings looked at trends over the past three years at all grade levels. In reading, Tacoma’s numbers were stable or improving, with the exception of third and eighth grade, he said. And in math, his analysis showed the three-year trend was up at all levels except third grade.
“We are very pleased with math trends,” Cummings said. In the past few years, Tacoma has invested in new math textbooks and in coaching elementary and middle school math teachers.
In Puyallup -- Pierce County’s largest suburban school district -- students have posted impressive numbers for several years. But this year, Puyallup students exceeded statewide averages in all subjects and all grades, said Glenn Malone, the district’s director of assessment, accountability and student success.
Like others in education, Malone is looking ahead to the next big testing trend: the Common Core standards.
They have been adopted by most states, including Washington. Tests based on the standards -- generally regarded as more rigorous than what Washington uses today -- will be phased in over several years. Beginning with the class of 2019, Washington high school students will have to pass a test based on Common Core standards in English language arts -- which will combine reading and writing tests -- and in math, in order to graduate.
Last year, five schools in Tacoma helped test questions based on Common Core standards. Malone said 11 schools in Puyallup participated last year -- more than any other district in the state.
Dorn hopes this year to recruit even more schools -- at least 20 percent -- for a broader field test of complete tests based on Common Core standards.
Why change standards now?
“Because the world has changed,” Dorn said. “Now our public school system has to change to meet that challenge.”
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635