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SHS optimistic heading into state standardized testing period

This is the second year 10th grade students in Washington state will be taking the High School Proficiency Exams (HSPE). Sunnyside High School Assistant Principal Ryan Maxwell says the exam was adopted to save schools and the state time and money.

The problem, however, is many schools do not have the capacity to deliver the HSPE via computer.

Last year, only one school in the Sunnyside School District was able to provide students the ability to take the statewide standardized test electronically.

"Sunnyside High School and other schools in the district still deliver the test via paper and pencil," said Maxwell, explaining the HSPE and the Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) were developed to be computer-based.

The HSPE replaces the WASL exam. This year's HSPE testing will take place beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) through Thursday and the science exam will be Tuesday, April 12.

The HSPE and MSP exams were adopted as Washington state's standardized testing because Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn promised to make the WASL more efficient and timely. The WASL was costly, according to Maxwell, and Dorn wanted to save both the state and the schools time and money.

"The big change is the math," Maxwell said.

He said math is no longer tested as part of the standardized testing process. Instead, students in ninth and 10th grade classes are tested at the end of the year as part of the curriculum. The students are tested if they have taken algebra, geometry or an integrated math class. It is part of the "end of the course" testing.

The HSPE consists of four days of testing. Two days are dedicated to writing, one day is spent testing the reading skills of students and another day is set aside for testing science proficiency at the 10th grade level.

SHS Literacy Coach Sandy Schilperoort said the HSPE is a little shorter than the WASL, although there are 11 targets instead of 10 in the reading test.

The additional target, said Schilperoort, is intended to provide students real-world application to the material.

The writing exam hasn't changed from the WASL. In the reading exam, extended answers are no longer required.

"The students still dread the testing, but there has been a lot of support throughout the school...upper classmen and freshmen have been encouraging the students taking the exams (this week)," said Schilperoort.

She said the encouragement has been intended to boost the confidence of the students to be tested. It is also meant to give them inspiration to maintain their attendance during the exams.

"Those who miss a test will have to wait until August to take it, so attendance is crucial," said Schilperoort.

Seniors who haven't yet met state standards last month were able to submit collection of evidence material to the state in order to ensure graduation requirements are met.

Schilperoort said she believes students at SHS will fare better on the exams than sophomores did last year. She said students with good attendance records seemingly do well on the standardized tests and the school has worked hard to increase attendance this school year.

Maxwell said, "We have been doing great things in this school district...especially in math."

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