I looked at the OSPI web site to further my understanding of the current state of statewide testing in Washington State. It is apparent based on the data there is a large discrepancy between students who meet standards in the K-8 setting compared to students in 11th grade. Viewing and analyzing these scores from 2014-15 provided insight into the current state of standardized testing in Washington State. I looked specifically at statewide testing in high school English/language arts as it is most pertinent to my intended grade level and subject.
It was both surprising and disappointing to see that just 26.3% of 11th graders statewide meet state standards in ELA. The data also revealed that a much higher percentage of students meet standards in K-8 than in 11th grade. This drop is dramatic and it makes me wonder what causes the great discrepancy. Though there could an assortment of different contributing factors, I believe this shows a complete disconnect between statewide testing and current curriculum that is being taught throughout high schools. I have the inherent belief that the majority of teachers do a wonderful job teaching, but maybe the content that educators are focusing on does not align with the necessary skills in the statewide test.In addition, Washington State recently switched to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the unfamiliarity of this assessment among students, parents, teachers, counselors and administrators may also be causing issues.
I took a more detailed look at the Seattle Public School District’s scores for two reasons: my current internship placement within the district and it being the largest district in the state. I was once again shocked by the significant drop off of passing rates from K-8 to 11th grade. In 8th grade 61.1% of students meet standards, but that number drops to just 9.6% for the 11th-grade assessment. Honestly, this number is staggering. It raises many questions for myself in terms of the state of education in the Seattle School District, but also at the state-level as well.
Lastly, I took a more in-depth look at statewide testing in the Bainbridge Island School District – my past school district. I chose Bainbridge because I know it has a reputation for being a strong district with a high-socioeconomic makeup and I wanted to know how it compared to the state average. For some reason, this data was suppressed. I then selected Mercer Island, which has a similar composition. The plummet of students meeting standards from 8th grade (78.6%) to 11th grade (15.9%) was still present. I would like to further investigate this issue as it seems this a significant issue across Washington State and requires attention.