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Schools chief sees progress and concern in test data


Banks students beat all state averages; Forest Grove and Gaston results mixed

Results of 2011-12 statewide assessments in reading, math, writing and science last year were a mixed bag, with elementary students outperforming high school pupils in three of four core subject areas, Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton said last week.

Starting in 2010-11, students in grades 3 through 8 were held to higher standards in math, and last year higher expectations were put in place for reading and science, Saxton noted.

Standardized state test results released Sept. 12 showed that student learning increased at every grade level in reading, but the overall percent of students meeting standards went down in elementary and middle school. High school reading performance held steady.

In math, elementary and middle school students continued to see gains, but the percent of high school students meeting the state standard declined.

In science, all grades saw a decrease in student performance.

Reports show that Banks School District students met or exceeded the statewide average in each subject area. In Gaston, scores beat state averages in writing but lagged behind in reading, science and math.

And in Forest Grove, student scores fell below state averages in math, reading and science. But, they exceeded Oregon averages in writing.

"This year's test results highlight both areas of great progress and areas of great concern," said Saxton, who stepped in to lead the state Department of Education after Susan Castillo resigned last June.

"The decrease in the percent of students meeting elementary and middle school reading targets was to be expected," Saxton said. "When you raise the bar, not all kids will get over it in the first year."

However, Saxton went on to say he's not satisfied with other data from the tests.

"Our students' science results are very disappointing, as were our English Language Learners' test results," he said. "And high school performance was flat or down in every subject."

The state Legislature eliminated the fourth- and seventh-grade writing assessment last year, leaving only 11th graders to take the test. The percent of students meeting standards on the high school writing test went down 1 percent.