There were more ups than downs for Whatcom County schools and schools throughout the state on the latest round of standardized tests, especially in the traditionally more challenging categories of math and science.
Scores from the Measurements of Student Progress, High School Proficiency Exam and "end of course" exams were released Wednesday, Aug. 29. Individual student results will be out to parents by mid- to late September.
Students in grades 3 through 8 take the reading and math MSP, with select grades taking the writing and science tests.
High school students, generally in 10th grade, take the HSPE in reading and writing, and end-of-course tests in algebra, geometry and biology. Wednesday's results are from tests administered last school year.
Statewide, scores in math were up for all grades, with gains from 2.2 to 6.7 percentage points in all but fourth grade, where the number of students passing remained steady at 59.3 percent.
End-of-course exam results for math bumped up more than 5 points to 71 percent of students passing algebra and 79.1 percent passing geometry.
This year, each school district in Whatcom County increased its scores on the algebra exam, by 2.4 to 15.8 percentage points. Students graduating in 2013 or 2014 have to pass at least one of the math end-of-course tests, along with the reading and writing HSPE exams, to graduate.
Science scores statewide showed a boost as well: fifth-grade scores increased by 10.4 points, while eighth grade was up 4.7 points.
Most districts in Whatcom County had similar gains, some smaller and some as dramatic as 20 percentage points, as happened for fifth-graders in Meridian School District.
Last spring was the first time high school students took the end-of-course exam for biology, and 64.1 percent of students passed the test statewide. Though it's not a direct comparison, only 49.9 percent of 10th-graders passed the previous science test the year before. Locally, Bellingham, Nooksack Valley and Blaine beat the state average by about 7 to 16 points.
Reading and writing, however, didn't see the same positive growth. Third-grade reading dropped by 4.4 points statewide, with 68.7 percent passing the test this year, a drop that officials from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction couldn't explain.
Eighth- and 10th-grade results were down by 1.5 points each. Fourth- and fifth-grade reading results were up by up to 4 points, while sixth grade held steady at 70.6 percent passing.
Seventh grade had a massive jump of 14.7 points to 71.2 percent, though the increase was so large because last year's results were low, officials said.
Whatcom County school districts had a similarly mixed bag for reading results. Third-graders throughout the county seemed to struggle with reading, some dropping points in the double digits. Lynden School District was the exception, with third-grade reading improving by 1.8 points.
Writing scores statewide for fourth and seventh grade stayed about the same, with a 1.1 point drop in 10th-grade results. Local results were up and down, though most districts had gains in at least one grade for writing.
Use this searchable database to see high school graduation and dropout rates for the class of 2010 in Washington state.
SEE THE RESULTS
To see the results for Measurements of Student Progress, High School Proficiency Exam and end-of-course tests for districts and schools, go online to k12.wa.us/ and click on the "State Report Card" icon on the right side of the page. From there, you can select districts and individual schools in the scroll-down menu.
DETAILED BREAKDOWN COMING
An in-depth look at state test results, including a page of school-level comparison charts, will run in the Sunday, Sept. 2, issue of The Bellingham Herald.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 756-2803.