Voices split on test scores
September 29, 2010
By Sebastian Moraga
Fact: “The school district continues to outperform the state in all grades and all areas,” education expert Greg Lobdell said at the Sept. 23 Snoqualmie Valley School Board meeting.
Fact: The test scores at six neighboring school districts beat the Valley’s third-, seventh- and 10th-graders almost every time in math and reading, retorted community leader and former Valley schools’ foundation president Carolyn Simpson.
So, how well is the district really doing at the Measurement of Student Progress and the High School Proficiency Exam? That depends on where you look and whom you ask.
Simpson said she compared three years’ worth of Snoqualmie Valley test scores with those of the Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Riverview and Tahoma school districts.
A look at 2010 data shown by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website shows Snoqualmie Valley scoring lower in two-thirds of the 36 tests. Each of the six districts listed two test scores — math and reading — for three different grades.
When compared with Riverview, the 2010 numbers put Snoqualmie Valley scoring higher in all six categories — reading and math for third-, seventh- and 10th-grades.
Other than that, the other districts outscored Snoqualmie Valley in eight of 12 fourth-grade tests, with one tie (Bellevue) in reading.
In seventh grade, other districts outscored the Valley in seven of 12 tests. In 10th grade, other districts outscored the Valley in nine of 12 tests.
“I think it’s more pertinent to look at eastern Puget Sound districts,” Simpson said. “That’s really our peer group.”
Then, there’s Lobdell’s data, which centered on comparing the district’s performance with the state’s.
In the areas where the state improved, the district improved more, Lobdell said. In areas where the state’s scores worsened, the district’s worsened less.
Eleven percent of district students struggled with the seventh-grade math test in 2010. It’s the lowest it’s ever been, Lobdell said.
With Simpson preaching caution and Lobdell preaching optimism, schools Superintendent Joel Aune reminded both, and the rest of the audience, that there’s more to success in the classroom than a test score.
It’s not wise to make all decisions based on the standardized test scores, Aune said.
“Classroom-based assessments are key,” he said. “The frequency of assessments is important in helping the teachers make decisions.”
Regardless of who is right, the district won’t stop at these scores, Assistant Superintendent Don McConkey said.
“Our staff is not satisfied,” he said. “They believe we can do better.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.