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LOSD pleased with state assessment scores overall

While Lake Oswego students outperformed their peers at other schools across the state, their test scores still reflected the same statewide trends.

The results of state assessment, which were given last year in reading, writing, science and math, were released last week.

'We were pleased with our scores overall,' said Lake Oswego Superintendent Bill Korach.

Significantly, state leaders are praising the strides made in math, in which students had to meet higher standards. Statewide student performance increased or held steady in reading, science and writing at every grade except fourth grade writing, which dropped two points.

Raising the bar in math

Lake Oswego students made impressive progress toward meeting Oregon's new, more rigorous, math expectations, though the scores at the elementary and middle schools reflect a predicted drop as this is the first year of a new standard.

'It's not so much a function of our kids doing less well its that the standard is going up,' said Korach. 'That means we have to ratchet up the expectation as well as the instruction.

'We can always say that we're ahead of the state, but ... what we've got to do is get as many of our kids to be at above grade level regardless of what the standard is.'

For Lake Oswego, educators plan to focus on the approximately 10 percent of students who are struggling to meet the standard, said Korach.

'We always have to remember that its not just 90 percent of the kids, it's 100 percent.'

Under Oregon's assessment system, state reading and math tests are given at all grades above third grade, and this year's standards were raised for grades 3-8. This change aligned Oregon's math standards with rigorous national and international expectations and provided students, parents, and teachers with better information about how prepared students are to meet Oregon's new high school diploma requirements.

'We did this to ensure our students would enter high school with the skills needed to succeed and graduate college- and career-ready,' said Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo. 'Not all students will get over this higher bar the first year. But today's results clearly indicate that our students are on the right track. If we provide our students with high-quality instruction, rigorous expectations, and strong instructional supports, they can and will achieve at high levels.'

The growth in student learning is evident when compared to past performance. For the past several years, the average student scores in math increased about one third of a point each year in elementary school and less than half of a point each year in middle school. This past year, the average elementary students' math score increased by 2.7 points and middle school students' scores increased by 1.3 points.

Impressively, statewide, the percent of high school students meeting or exceeding the state standard increased by 12 points. At Lakeridge High School, more than 95 percent of students met or exceeded the requirement, compared to last year's 84.6 percent. Lake Oswego High School students beat their average score last year by almost 10 percentage points going from 80.6 percent to 90 percent.

Elementary writing scores take a dive

Following a trend in writing scores, all the district's elementary schools, except Palisades - which ironically was closed for this school year - saw a drop in writing scores. Districtwide, writing scores fell by 10 points in fourth grade.

Scores for seventh grade writing held steady, while students at both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools saw an increase in writing of about 5 points. Statewide, the percent of high school students who met or exceeded the standard increased by 15 points.

The scores have little value for the district this year, said Korach. This year the state could only afford to have one person read and score each writing test.

'You need three readers ... and now they're down to one,' said Korach. 'Your scores will look odd from year to year if you're only using one reader. If the state can't provide (three) ... it becomes less interesting to us as an indicator. Until we can get that it is of some interest, but seeing as our program isn't changing any ... it's just the difference between one reader or another.'

Historically, writing tests have been given at grades 4, 7, and high school. However, due to budget constraints, the Oregon Legislature also suspended the fourth and seventh grade writing tests for the current biennium, and next year students will only take a state writing test in the 11th grade.

In the past, students had the opportunity to take the writing test more than once during their junior year, but next year that privilege will be limited to only one chance. If a student does not meet the graduation standard on the state test, local districts will have to have to rely on other metrics to determine proficiency in writing.

Up next: science and reading

Reading achievement standards will increase next year for elementary and middle school students, and like this year's math scores, it is anticipated that there will be an initial drop in scores. In addition, the State Board of Education will be reviewing new achievement standards for science this fall and, if adopted, these new achievement standards would go into effect for the 2011-12 school year.

This year, Lake Oswego students performed similarly to last year with slight increases in eighth grade and high school. State science tests are taken in grades 5, 8, and high school.

More than 95 percent of Lake Grove, Bryant, Oak Creek and Uplands elementary school fifth grade students met or exceeded the standard. But the district saw a significant drop at Palisades from 95 percent meeting to 78.9 percent meeting.

At both junior highs, approximately 93 percent of students met the standard. Following a statewide trend, both LOHS and Lakeridge increased their scores by nine percentage points, for an average of 90.8 percent of students meeting benchmarks. Across the state, there was a 10 point increase in percentage of high school students meeting science standards.

In reading, high school students also saw great gains with an average increase of seven percentage points, while elementary and junior high school scores gains were more consistent with past performance.

More than 95 percent of third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students at Forest Hills, Hallinan, Lake Grove and Westridge met or exceeded standards this year. The districtwide average only fell short of 95 percent for fifth graders, of which 93.8 percent met standards. Waluga and Lake Oswego junior highs also saw over 90 percent of students meeting standards.