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WA schools have new student data

SEATTLE — Washington school officials and parents on Monday were given a new way to look at their schools - information on how much math and reading students are learning from year to year.

New school-level data showing student improvement on statewide exams was posted online by state education officials.

The so-called student growth percentiles are different from the test results parents are used to seeing. The old results look at one test in one year. The new results show student improvement from one year to the next.

Only school-wide and district-wide data is available online. Districts will receive the same information on individual students, unless they are in a grade where no statewide testing is required, such as kindergarten. Some districts will share this information with parents. In other districts, parents will have to request it, said Nathan Olson, spokesman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This kind of student growth data is already being tracked at some individual school districts in Washington state, but it has never been available in this kind of detail to the public before.

Unfortunately, the data has not yet been presented in a user-friendly way. People who want to see how their school is doing will first need to find district level information, which is available in a spreadsheet, and then look for their individual school on the list.

State officials have prepared an easy-to-understand video explaining what student growth percentiles mean and that video is available on the OSPI website.

The video compares student growth percentiles to the weight and height charts parents are used to seeing in their child’s pediatrician’s office. A student growth percentile is a number between 1 and 99. Students with higher numbers — or districts with higher averages — are judged to be making more progress. Washington’s new teacher evaluation system is expected to use this data to assess individual teachers in grades and subjects where the results are available.

Student improvement is just one of several measures to be used to grade teachers and the state law does not define how much of an influence this information will have on teacher evaluations.

Online:

Video and explanation of Student Growth Percentiles: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StudentGrowth.aspx

District data files: http://data.k12.wa.us/PublicDWP/Web/WashingtonWeb/PublishedReports/PublishedReports.aspx

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