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Latest WASL scores are par for the course on Vashon Island
At least on Vashon, the WASL went out on a positive note.
Vashon students outperformed their peers statewide on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) this
spring, the last time the standardized test was administered before being replaced with two new statewide tests next spring.
The Island students who took the WASL three years in a row — the classes of 2013 through 2016 — showed improvement over their previous scores in reading, math or both.
Students in Washington state in grades three through eight and 10 took the WASL this spring in two or more of the following subjects — reading, math, writing and science. The “state report card,” which shows the percentage of students meeting the WASL standard, was released on Friday.
Vashon students in each grade scored better than the state average with the exception of fourth-grade writing, eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade science.
In two of those three test areas, Vashon missed the state standard by less than half a percent, but fell 8 percent below the state in fourth-grade writing, a difference that officials could not easily explain.
Still, Superintendent Michael Soltman said he is proud of Island students’ WASL scores.
“I think it’s a reason to be optimistic about our students’ future in terms of being competent in the world of college and work,” he said.
“I’m concerned about the kids that aren’t meeting the standard,” he added. “The real challenge in a school district like ours is to do early identification in reading and math and early intervention to be sure those kids get the scores and the skills they’re going to need to be competent all through school and after school.”
Susan Lofland, Vashon PTSA president, said she, too, is pleased with Vashon’s performance.
“Consistently, Vashon outperforms the state, and we are always proud we do that,” she said.
It makes sense, she added, to compare each Island class to its performance in previous years, rather than comparing a particular grade level from year to year.
While Island students had their lowest raw scores on the science portion of the WASL, so did students statewide.
Vashon students’ science scores this spring ranged from 47 to 61 percent of students meeting the standard; 38 to 51 percent of Washington students passed the test.
And the class of 2013, this year’s incoming freshman, made a major improvement in science since they were fifth graders — the last time the WASL tested them on it — from 36.8 percent to 50.8 percent.
No class of students on Vashon had a standout improvement in any area in the past three years, and the classes of 2013 and 2016 saw a decline in reading scores each of the past three times they took the test.
The class of 2013 saw its reading score decline from 75 percent to 67 percent in the last three years; the class of 2016, which is entering McMurray Middle School this fall, fell from 83 to 76 percent.
However, Vashon’s incoming junior and senior classes seem to be doing particularly well in reading, a subject that according to experts is a good indicator of overall academic success.
Ninety-five percent of Vashon’s seniors met the WASL standard when they last took the exam as 10th-graders in 2008, and 94 percent of juniors met the standard this spring. While the two classes aren’t doing as well in math — 75 and 65 percent passed, respectively — they’re far above the state average of 45 percent.
Still, school board member John “Oz” Osborne warned against reading too much into Vashon’s data.
“The thing that we all have to remember is that two years certainly doesn’t make a trend,” he said. “I’ve looked at all of the WASL scores, and in general we are matching state trends, whether that’s up or down.”
“My overall impression is that we’re doing a good job,” he added.