Test scores continue to improve as they become graduation requirement

With new graduation requirements officially in place, Estacada High School continues to show improvement.

For the class of 2012, the change was the need to pass the OAKS reading test, or some equivalent assessment, in order to graduate.

This year, seniors need to have passed both reading and writing, while next year math will join the mix.

The good news for Estacada High School and principal Scott Sullivan is that his students have shown steady improvement on the tests, which are given to juniors each year.

“Our initial reaction was one of concern in terms of how we would provide resources to assist kids with the limited resources we have,” Sullivan said. “When we were in cutting mode, though, we just didn’t cut from those subject areas and unfortunately we had to cut in elective areas, which is a big ‘unfortunately’.”

At least one area of consolation for Sullivan is the fact that his decision has paid off.

In 2008-09, 64 percent of students passed reading, 41 percent passed writing and 50 percent passed math.

Three years later, however, those numbers have increased to 91 percent in reading, 71 percent in writing and 68 percent in math.

With the new requirement of having to pass these tests in order to graduate, Estacada High School has been doing everything it can to prepare students.

“We have intervention classes or we have students in two English classes,” Sullivan said. “The class is designed for them to gain knowledge and skills needed to pass the test. These classes didn’t exist before the requirement, but they should have because kids are learning to read, write and do math better.”

While those numbers are all reassuring, especially the large strides the school has made as a group, there still is a group of students who aren’t set to graduate based solely on their test score. The good news, however, is that it isn’t the end of the road.

The easiest method, according to Sullivan, is to retake the OAKS test. Students can retake the test in any subject two times a year except for writing.

In the case of writing, students can attempt a countywide assessment in which they provide writing samples that are graded and monitored by a local, county-appointed assessor.

Aside from the OAKS test in reading, students can also achieve sufficient marks on the ACT, SAT, PSAT or a number of other standardized tests in order to meet the standard.

From the high school’s point of view, the best part is that no students failed to graduate last year because of a failed test.

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