Coupeville School District test scores show mixed results
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 26, 2011 · Updated 8:03 AM
While Coupeville students generally scored above state averages on standardized testing, middle school scores did not make Adequate Yearly Progress.
Coupeville Elementary School was recognized by the Northwest Educational Service District as one of 99 schools in the state for most improved student achievement over the previous year.
The standard, Adequate Yearly Progress, is raised each year until 100 percent of students will be required to pass the tests in 2014, as stated in the No Child Left Behind law.
Seventh grade areas were more than 10 points above the state percentage of students that met standards but seventh grade students in Coupeville still didn’t meet AYP, said Superintendent Patty Page.
“It’s one indicator, not an end-all be-all. What you do in the classroom shouldn’t be about the test, it should be about the standards and if students are doing well on the standards then they should be doing well on the test. We are seeing growth in many of our areas,” Page said.
“We’ve never had a student not graduate because they must pass the tests to graduate,” Page added.
Due to the smaller size of Coupeville schools, teachers are able to look at individual students’ scores on standardized tests and compare them to scores on classroom tests. Teachers know if a student was sick before the state tests and how motivated they were to do well on the tests, all beneficial in understanding the overall progress of the student, Page said.
Students in grades 3 to 8 took the Measure of Student Progress test, which includes reading, writing, math and science tests. High school students took the High School Proficiency Exam, which includes reading, writing and science.
Due to changing tests, including the switch from the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in 2009, and that the students in a grade level one year aren’t the same as the next year, Page said it doesn’t make sense to compare this year’s scores with previous years. Instead, the goal is to surpass state standards.
Many areas were at least 10 points above the state percentage of students that met standards, including third, fourth and seventh grade reading, seventh grade writing and 10th grade science, Page said.
Coupeville Elementary School principal David Ebersole said elementary school science was a “shining area of improvement” and that it’s great to see reading scores improve each year.
Fourth and sixth grade math and fourth grade writing were below state standards, Page said.
The district is always looking at ways to better math scores, although scores are “decent and respectable,” Page said.
“As educators, we’ve honed the skills in reading over the years. Most people consider themselves readers but not mathematicians,” Page said, adding that the focus in education isn’t on math, especially at the elementary level. This is a national issue, not just Coupeville, Page said.
“We’re still in the 90-percentile in reading and writing and have really high scores in writing in middle school,” said Coupeville Middle and High School Principal Sheldon Rosenkrance.
The elementary school is looking at ways to help individual students improve scores and instructional changes to improve areas that weren’t as strong this year, Ebersole said.
Students in seventh through 12th grade began taking End of Course exams in algebra and geometry in the spring. EOC exams aim to test students on what they learned in a specific course rather than comprehensive tests like the HSPE.
Scores were slightly above state standards.
Coupeville schools move students through the math track faster than other schools, Page said. Students do algebra in eighth grade instead of ninth and even some seventh graders skip ahead to algebra. This made it difficult as seventh through 10th graders took the algebra EOC exam, and it was similar for geometry. It was a lot of catching students up and catching the students who’d worked ahead, Page said.
“Next year it won’t be quite as strange,” Page said.
In 2012, students will begin taking biology EOC exams. Rosenkrance said high school teachers are working to adjust curriculum.
“It’s good information and we truly use the information to do well in school. Teachers are working very hard and students are performing well,” Page said.
A more solid measure of success for the district is the SAT scores. Washington has the highest SAT scores in the nation and Coupeville students outperformed the state, Page said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.