State's test scores show schools making headway

Local school districts are making gains on statewide and standardized tests, but they still have a ways to go to catch the state average.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said that overall achievement levels on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS), a national test that assesses third and sixth grade students across the state, remain strong. She added that gaps between the highest performing students and their lower testing peers has narrowed.

The state reading score average for third graders has stayed the same, in the 58th percentile. The third grade math scores have also remained the same, in the 67th percentile.

In Mabton, third grade reading scores dropped one percentile from 27 in the 2002-03 school year to 26 in the 2003-04 school year at Artz-Fox Elementary School.

Math scores increased from the 30th percentile to the 33rd percentile.

In 2004, the composite math and reading score stayed the same as 2003, at the 29th percentile.

In the Sunnyside School District third grade reading scores were on the rise at two of the community's three elementary schools. Third grade scores at Pioneer Elementary School went from the 30th percentile in 2002-03 to the 36th percentile in the 2003-04 school year.

Students' scores at Washington Elementary School raised from the 35th percentile to the 39th percentile.

At Outlook Elementary School scores sank one percentile point from 28 to 27.

ITBS math scores remained the same at Pioneer Elementary School. Students tested in the 41st percentile in the 2002-03 and the 2003-04 school years.

Students at Washington Elementary School increased one percentile point, raising from the 45th to the 46th percentile.

At Outlook Elementary School students dropped three percentile points from the 37th percentile in 2002-03 to the 34th percentile in 2003-04.

In the composite math and reading scores, Pioneer students went from the 35th percentile to the 39th. Students at Washington raised their scores from the 40th percentile to the 43rd percentile.

Statewide, sixth grade students' reading scores remained the same as 2003 in the 55th percentile. In 2003 language scores for Washington sixth graders were in the 56th percentile. They went down one point to the 55th percentile in 2004. For the third year in a row sixth grade math scores have remained the same, in the 58th percentile.

At Chief Kamiakin Elementary School in Sunnyside, reading scores dropped from the 29th percentile in 2002-03 to the 25th percentile in 2003-04, but the students showed marked improvements in math and language.

Math scores jumped from the 29th percentile to the 33rd percentile, and language scores increased from the 36th percentile to the 40th percentile.

The core total of the three scores raised from the 29th percentile in 2003 to the 32nd percentile in 2004.

Executive Director of Instruction and Learning for the Sunnyside School District, Deannie Dunbar, said that the students in the local school district have made improvements in scores.

Sixth grade students at Artz-Fox Elementary noticed improvements in the language and math scores. Mabton sixth graders' scores increased from 36th percentile in 2002-03 to 40th percentile in 2004. Math scores were increased from the 29th percentile in 2002-03 to the 33rd percentile this past school year.

Reading scores dropped from the 29th percentile to the 25th percentile.

Mabton sixth graders' core total for 2004 was in the 32nd percentile compared to the 29th percentile in 2002-03.

Mabton Superintendent Kevin Chase said he is pleased with the ITBS test results.

"We made some good gains last year and we were able to hold those scores," said Chase.

He said that in Mabton they are seeing students who once tested low, move into the middle testing ranges and those from the middle ranges moving to the higher testing ranges.

"We're moving kids from the lowest core tile to the middle and those from the middle to the highest," said Chase.

The ITBS is a norm-referenced test given annually to Washington's third and sixth graders.

"It is a tremendous compliment to our teachers and other school staff that our students continue to do well on the ITBS," said Burgeson. "But even with this consistency and gains in many areas, we still have a significant achievement gap for some of our students. We need to continue working together to help all students achieve our state's learning standards and erase the gap."

. Melissa Dekker can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail


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