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Lower Valley students holding steady when it comes to ITED

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Sunnyside Police Officer Oli Hernandez just misses being dunked at the National Night Out community event.

Students in the Lower Valley may not have scored as high as the state average when it comes to the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED), but students throughout the area are managing to keep their scores in line with not only other Lower Valley students, but the school's average in years past.

The ITED tests ninth-grade students in three categories, including expression, reading and quantitative thinking. The test also offers a core total.

Grandview Superintendent Kevin Chase explained that the ITED is a completely different exam than the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) exam that people have gotten used to hearing about. Chase said the ITED is a strictly multi-choice exam, where students are not asked to explain the answers they provide. Chase said when it comes to the WASL students are asked to explain their answers and are then scored on both the answer they gave and the explanation of how they came to that conclusion.

"It's just a different test," Chase said.

In Sunnyside, last year's ninth grade students scored as well or better than 37 percent of their peers throughout the nation in the category of expression. In the reading category, Sunnyside students scored in the 25th percentile and in the quantitative thinking category they scored in the 40th percentile. In the core total, 34 percent of Sunnyside ninth graders scored as well or better than other ninth graders throughout the country.

Gary Vegar, Sunnyside executive director of instruction and learning, said he was concerned when he saw Sunnyside's test scores. However, he noted that although as a community many people are in the business of making comparisons - comparing Sunnyside's scores with the state average or with scores from surrounding communities - what should really be compared is how Sunnyside has done in the past with how it's doing now.

"We need to compare ourselves to ourselves," Vegar said. "We need to look at our children and make sure we're improving from year to year."

When looking at last year's numbers, Sunnyside ninth graders did show improvement. In the core total in 2002-03 Sunnyside students scored in the 31st percentile. In 2003-04, that number went up by 3 percent. In fact, Sunnyside students improved by at least 1 percent in every category.

In Grandview, students' scores seemed to stay fairly close to last year's scores. In the category of expression, 35 percent of students scored as well or better than other ninth grade students throughout the nation, in reading the students scored in the 27th percentile and in the 39th percentile in quantitative thinking. Looking at the core total, 33 percent of students scored as well or better than other students who took the exam.

Chase said one of the things he attributes Grandview's scores to is the make-up of the district, noting that the Grandview School District has a large population of migrant students and students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. He said comparing the Grandview School District to the state average is like comparing apples to oranges.

However, Chase pointed out that when compared to other districts in the Lower Valley, Grandview students are scoring right where they should be.

Chase also noted that Grandview students have managed to keep their scores holding steady over time.

The state average on the ITED test shows in the category of expression 54 percent of students scored as well or better than students who took the exam throughout the United States, in reading Washington students scored in the 53rd percentile and in the 59th percentile in quantitative thinking. Overall, the core total for Washington state ninth graders in 2003-04 shows 57 percent of students scoring as well or better than other American ninth graders who took the exam.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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