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Math, science scores on the rise at Sunnyside High

Sunnyside School District's WASL results are in and it appears as though some gains were made.

The biggest gains at Sunnyside High School are in math and science: 27.8 percent of sophomores passed the math portion last spring, compared to 21.3 percent in 2006-07. For the science portion, 28.4 percent of students passed the test, while only 17.2 passed the test the previous year.

"For the last five years, our 10th graders have been making fairly steady gains in math and science," said Lori Froese, the assessment director for the Sunnyside School District. "It's difficult to say how much the state's fine tuning of the test has to do with these gains, but I feel confident in saying that both teacher and student efforts have been crucial."

She added that teachers continue to get training in math and science and in how to best instruct each student.

Sunnyside sophomores basically held steady in the reading and writing portions of the test, but appear to be well below the state levels: 69.8 percent of sophomores passed the reading portion, compared to 81.3 percent for the state's average.

For fifth graders taking the test, math scores for Chief Kamiakin dropped from 27.6 percent to 18.2 percent of students who passed. Outlook fifth graders also dropped significantly, from 31.4 percent in 2006-07 to 24.5 percent in 2007-08. Not much change was reflected in math scores between the two testing years for Pioneer and Washington Elementary School students.

Pioneer fifth graders made significant gains in reading, with 59.4 percent of students passing the test, compared to 52.9 percent from the year before. Washington Elementary School fifth graders also saw an increase in reading, with 60.5 percent of students passing the test, compared to 56 percent the year before. Fifth grade reading scores at Chief Kamiakin are far below that, with only 45.3 percent of students passing the reading portion of the WASL.

Froese said, "We look for trends of three or more years. For example, if you look at each of the schools' fourth grade WASL scores over the years, you'll find that they all jump up and down." She added that despite the fluctuations, the district is seeing an overall upward trend.

Sierra Vista sixth and eighth grade scores dropped dramatically from the year before. In 2006-07, 61.2 percent of sixth grade students passed the reading portion, compared to only 48.5 percent this year. Math scores for Sierra Vista sixth graders dropped from 30.6 percent in 2006-07 to 19.3 percent this past spring.

On all three portions of the WASL, eighth grade percentages dropped as well, with 51.6 percent passing the reading, 25.7 passing the math and 14.4 percent passing the science. The numbers were better in 2006-07, with 59.8 percent passing the reading, 33.9 percent passing the math and 23 percent passing the science portion.

Sierra Vista seventh graders showed dramatic improvement, with 47.6 percent passing the reading portion compared to 35.2 percent in 2006-07 and 30.1 percent passing the math portion, compared to 20.4 percent the year before.

At Harrison Middle School, the percentage of students passing the WASL in all grades dropped tremendously, with the exception of eighth grade math and science scores being the only gains. For example, 55.8 percent of sixth graders passed the reading portion in 2006-07, while 44.2 passed it in 2007-08. Eighth grade math scores increased from 21.9 percent to 33.2 and science scores increased from 14.5 to 18.1 percent.

Froese said the district tends to follow the same yearly ups and downs as the state. "However, for the last three years our current cohort of eighth and ninth graders have been making steady gains in the math WASL, while the state cohort has gone up and down."

Despite the losses in terms of the number of students meeting standard on the WASL, Froese said all of the schools in general have made "tremendous gains" from where the district was five to 10 years ago.

She also noted the WASL is only one indicator as to how well students in the Sunnyside School District are doing.

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