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State test results amount to a mixed bag

Forest Grove students ahead of average scores in writing


Forest Grove students performed ahead of state averages in writing districtwide last year but mostly fell behind in math, reading and science.

It was more of a mixed bag in Banks, as the 2012-13 Oregon Assessment of Knowledge & Skills results released earlier this month showed pupils up and down in math and reading, behind in writing at the high school level and ahead in science.

And in Gaston, science, reading and math at the eleventh-grade level were strong suits, while performance in writing fell 15 percentage points behind state averages.

Notable data from each district includes the following:

n Forest Grove — In math, students tested behind state averages in grades 3-8 but ahead of averages (83 percent to 69 percent) by grade 11. It was a similar story in reading, with only eleventh-graders pulling ahead of statewide averages (86 to 85 percent). By their junior year in high school, students were four percentage points ahead of Oregon’s average in writing (64 to 60) but behind in science (58 percent to 63 percent).

n Banks — Pupils produced up-and-down scores in math until eighth-grade, when they pulled ahead of Oregon averages by a 66 to 63 percent margin. By grade 11, they beat state results by eight percentage points, 77 to 69. Reading scores by grade 11 were three percentage points higher than average (88 to 85), while writing was below average (60 to 52 percent) and science was above, 78 to 63 percent.

n Gaston — Science was a bright spot for the district, as students in eleventh-grade beat state test averages by nine points, 72 to 63 percent. Writing was weaker, with only 45 percent of eleventh-graders passing tests, compared to 60 percent across Oregon. In reading, eighth- and eleventh-graders posted better than average scores (70 percent to 67 percent and 88 to 85 percent, respectively). And in math, only fourth-graders and eleventh-graders were above the state average (62 to 61 percent and 71 to 69 percent, respectively).

In Salem, Oregon Department of Education leaders acknowledged a marked drop in assessment results across the state, but at least one official pointed a finger at diminished school funding.

“We have historically underfunded our education system at every level,” said Nancy Golden, interim chief education officer. “While I don’t believe that funding is the answer to all of our problems, the quality and quantity of instruction we are able to provide to our students is directly impacted by the investment we are willing to make — an investment that is both targeted and based on demonstrated outcomes.”

Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton was particularly dismayed over a significant decrease in the percentage of students meeting state high school writing targets. Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, scores dropped seven percentage points.

“Writing is one of the most critical skills our students need to master for success in college and the workplace,” Saxton said. “We need to redouble our efforts on writing and turn these results around in the coming years.”



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