Lake Washington Students Continue To Outperform State on New Standardized Tests

Test Data is Mixed for State, Lake Washington School District

Redmond, Wash. – The watchword for state testing this year was “new.” The WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) was out: the new tests were the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) for grades three through eight and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) for 10th grade. The math MSP was not only a new test but it also assessed new learning standards. And online testing was new for students in grades six through eight.

“We are used to comparing test scores from one year with those from the past,” noted Assessment Coordinator Linda Stevens. “This year, those comparisons don’t work at all when it comes to math.”

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For the HSPE tests and the MSP tests in reading, writing and science, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction characterizes the new tests as comparable because they assessed the same learning standards as the WASL and have the same reliability and validity.

Lake Washington’s scores tended to parallel changes in the state scores, rising when the state scores rose and falling when they fell.

“Because the test is different every year and particularly this year, we tend to see fluctuations by a few points either way,” noted Stevens. “What we want to look at is when our district’s scores move in the opposite direction of the state scores or if the difference between district scores and state scores changes significantly. We normally have a much higher percentage of students at standard and want it to stay that way.”

The difference between district scores and state scores stayed within the range set over the last four years for all reading, writing and science tests. The two exceptions were fourth grade reading and 10th grade science and, in both cases, district students did better. In 4th grade reading, district scores fell less than the state did: from 87 percent to 84 percent district wide and from 74 percent to 67 percent statewide. For 10th grade science, the district’s scores improved even more than the state scores, from 59 percent to 71 percent district wide and from 39 percent to 44 percent statewide.

Because the math test was different this year, test scores essentially reset and cannot be compared to past scores. However, the comparison between district and state scores provides some information.

“There are three grades where our math scores were not quite as high as we would expect given the state averages,” noted Dr. Traci Pierce, deputy superintendent. “In third, fifth and sixth grade math, the percent of students at standard did not outshine state levels quite as much as they have historically. Since this is a new test with new standards, we will look carefully at the results by student and by school to see what might be going on. “

“Our main concern from this year’s state tests came in 8th grade math,” noted Dr. Chip Kimball, superintendent. “Normally, we see anywhere from 21 percent to 24 percent more students at standard than the state overall. This year, the gap is just 11 percent and is not acceptable in Lake Washington. We will review the new state standards, our curriculum, and our teaching strategies to see what might have happened, and what we can do to make sure more of our students succeed.”

Lake Washington School District is the sixth largest district in the state of Washington. It has over 24,000 students in 50 schools located in Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish, Washington.