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Oak Harbor students test at about average

The Oak Harbor school board took a closer look at results for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL, tests Monday and found that while they show a mix of ups and downs, they are “right about at the state average,” assistant superintendent Lance Gibbon said.

Math scores continue to be a concern in Oak Harbor and across the state. Scores dipped slightly in grades 3, 4 and 6, but at the high school level scores are within two to three percentage points below or above the state average, Gibbon said.

Last year, the high school was hindered by the number of students who didn’t take the test. In Oak Harbor, 12 percent of 10th graders chose not to take the reading test and 14 percent didn’t take the math or writing exams. It was nearly double the state average.

This year, that number decreased significantly, Gibbon said.

In grade four, Oak Harbor scores fell in reading. The state average rose to 73 percent in reading, while Oak Harbor fourth-graders slipped slightly to about 67 percent.

Gibbon says staff will examine some of the middle school reading scores this year, which also dipped under the state average.

Writing scores for seventh-graders are still above average, at about 71 percent.

For its second year, the “achievement gap,” which shows how low-income or minority students compare to the general population at a given school, is very small. Oak Harbor shows little difference between low-income and more affluent families.

The performance gap statewide is about 14 percent for Hispanic students and 15 percent for African American students, but in Oak Harbor, the numbers are only 9 and 3 percent, respectively.

Gibbon also discussed the Oak Harbor schools that joined a fast-growing list of schools that didn’t meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act. It requires that all students pass reading and math by 2014.

Olympic View Elementary and Crescent Harbor Elementary receive federal funds for low-income families, so the federal law required that parents had the option to transfer their kids to schools that did meet WASL targets. About 165 students switched schools.

“We don’t need to get 100 percent to know that we can get better than we are,” Superintendent Rick Schulte said.

This year’s testing benchmark had 60 percent of Washington schools listed as “not meeting yearly progress goals.”

“It’s a statistical guarantee in this law that all of our schools will soon be in federal improvement status. That’s unrealistic,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said in an August press release.

The state requires that students pass the reading and writing section of the WASL to graduate, but Gibbon said there were no students that didn’t graduate high school last year because they failed the test.

“Those with credit deficiencies didn’t pass the WASL, but it wasn’t the WASL alone,” Gibbon said.

Next year, the WASL will be replaced by the Measurements of Student Progress for grades 3 to 8 and the High School Proficiency Exam for older kids. Each is slated to be shorter and have less long-answer sections.

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