Students achieve high marks on state tests

Ashland students received high marks overall on the state's standardized tests last school year, but math and writing scores for many students weren't as high as district officials had hoped.

The scores from the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test were released Monday. Ashland School District administrators are still working to analyze the data from the reading, math, science and writing exams, Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said this morning.

"We continue to do really well on these measures, especially compared to the rest of the state," she said.

"What we think is a fair comparison is to compare us to ourselves and that's really what we try to do. We need to make sure that we are continuing to improve every year."

Earlier this year the scores were sent to the federal government, which checks to see if schools are meeting No Child Left Behind standards and making "adequate yearly progress." Last month, the district announced that it had met the federal benchmarks.

Still, the scores in some areas were disappointingly low, Di Chiro said.

Only 55 percent of 10th grade students met or exceeded state standards in writing — which vary from the federal requirements. The previous year, 56 percent of 10th grade students passed the mark.

"That's a disappointment to us because we actually spent a lot of time on writing," Di Chiro said. "We feel that that writing test is important because it's actually judging kids' writing, it's not a computerized test like the others."

Students in 10th grade also performed worse in the reading and math assessments than students in third through eighth grades, where 76.1 percent met or exceeded state standards in reading and 72.2 percent in math. Among the 10th grade students, only 66.1 percent met or exceeded the reading standards and 53.6 percent met or exceeded the math standards.

"The high school tests actually went down a little bit," Di Chiro said, "and we're going to take a look and see what happened there."

Still, the 10th grade students scored about the same or better than 10th grade students did the previous school year, except in writing.

The best way to analyze the results, Di Chiro believes, is to compare students to themselves — tracking their growth — instead of comparing one set of 10th grade students to the previous group of 10th grade students, she said.

But the district has to do that analysis itself, something that will take longer this year because of last spring's budget cuts, Di Chiro said.

"We're hoping that the state eventually adopts a growth model," Di Chiro said. "That's what we really should be looking at is each student compared to themselves."

She expects the district's analysis to be done a month from now.

Statewide, the test scores showed an overall decrease in reading scores in the third grade, as well as general increases in middle school scores in all subject areas, except writing.

Reading scores fell only slightly for Ashland third-grade students. In the 2007 school year, 83.9 percent of the students met or exceeded state standards, while in the last school year, 82.8 percent of the students did.

Di Chiro was hesitant to put too much weight on the scores since the district hasn't completed its analysis and because the assessments paint a small picture of students' progress, she said.

"This is just one measure of how kids are doing. This is a snapshot in time," she said. "We have to look at the scores along with classroom performance and grades. It's not just the test scores, it's all the rest of those things as well."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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