Year-end test results across the school district were mostly encouraging, and, in particular, officials are excited to release updated data on the high school in October.
At the high school, the trimester system adopted last school year has paid dividends. “We are really increasing the numbers of students getting As and Bs and decreasing the number of students getting Fs,” said District Superintendent Candy Armstrong.
“I think trimester is helping tremendously -- and a whole lot of work on the part of administration and staff making sure students can succeed,” Armstrong added.
Further good news about the high school will have to wait for October, she said.
The three elementary schools in the district posted improvements, sometimes substantial, across most grades, while the middle school had a slump in scores and is retooling in some areas in response.
North Wasco County School District 21 Board Vice Chair Kathy Ursprung said the schools “have made some really good inroads into the attendance problems we’ve been experiencing and cut down the absenteeism rate, and The Dalles High School has cut the number of Fs just about in half.”
Ursprung said absenteeism is still a problem “and outcomes reflect that. If your kids aren’t at school they’re not getting their education and there’s no way they can keep up with the expectations for growth and learning. That seems like a real obvious thing to say but we do have some pockets of extreme absenteeism.”
On attendance, Chenowith Elementary reported 75.8 percent of its students had good attendance – counted as attending 90 percent of the time – while Dry Hollow Elementary had 85.9 percent and Colonel Wright Elementary 85.4 percent good attendance.
In the elementaries, state test scores increased dramatically for most grades, which is a common occurrence in the second year of a new testing format, Armstrong said.
Last year was the first year of the new Smarter Balanced test, and scores statewide suffered, as is also typical with a new testing format. The second year can often be a year of sharp improvement.
Also, Armstrong noted that the test results are comparing different groups of kids.
Overall, Colonel Wright had 46.6 percent of students meeting reading state standards – up 2.6 percentage points from the year before -- and 35.6 percent meeting math standards, down 3.2 percentage points.
Dry Hollow had 53.5 percent meeting reading, up 10.7 points, and 43.4 percent meeting math, up 13.1 points. Chenowith had 37.7 percent meeting reading standards, up 10 points, and 30.9 percent meeting math standards, up 16 points.
Chenowith saw a 31 percentage-point increase in the amount of third graders who met state math standards, up from 20 points to 51 percent. Fourth graders were up 16 points, to 24 percent, and fifth grade was up seven points, to 22.9 percent.
In reading, Chenowith third graders improved 15 percentage points, up to 44.2 percent meeting state standards; fourth graders were up 10 points, to 30.6 percent and fifth graders were up five points to 40 percent.
At Dry Hollow,, state-standard reading scores were up 18 points in third grade, to 54 percent, up eight points in fourth to 50 percent, and up six points in fifth to 59 percent.
In math, Dry Hollow was up 19 points in third grade to 53 percent, up four points to 38 percent in fourth grade, and up 16 points in fifth grade to 38 percent.
Colonel Wright did not see the jumps the other two elementaries had, but students there had some of the highest percentages of kids meeting state standards.
Its third grade reading score stayed at 50 percent meeting standards, fourth grade was down four points to 44.6 percent, and fifth grade was up 16 points to 46.4 percent.
In math, Colonel Wright’s third grade was up 10 points to 58.8 percent of students meeting state standards, which fourth grade was down 18 to 28.6 and fifth was up seven points, also to 28.6.
In all the elementaries, the third grade classes well exceeded the fourth and fifth grade classes in math in terms of meeting state standards, which administrators say points to the success of recently implemented efforts in primary grades – K through 2 -- to boost those scores.
On a state science test, 82 percent of fifth grades at Dry Hollow met or exceeded state standards, 60 percent did at Colonel Wright, and 81.3 percent did at Chenowith.
In the elementary schools, all but one grade at one school progressed by at least one grade level during the year, which is the goal.
In most cases, it was by more than a grade, and one grade – the fifth graders at Dry Hollow – progressed by two grades.
Chenowith aggregate reading scores for all grades – just third through fifth are tested -- were at 37.7 percent at or above state testing standards.
Dry Hollow had 53.5 percent at or above state standards and Colonel Wright at 46.6 percent at that level.
By grade, for Dry Hollow, in reading, 54 percent of third graders met standards, 50 percent of fourth and 59 percent of fifth. In math, it was 53 percent for third, and 38 percent for both fourth and fifth.
At Colonel Wright, 50 percent of third graders met the reading standard, 44.6 percent of fourth and 46.4 percent of fifth graders.
In math, the percentages were 58.8 percent for third, and 28.6 percent for both fourth and fifth.
At Chenowith, 44.2 percent of third graders met or exceeded state standards for reading, 30.6 of fourth and 40 percent of fifth graders. In math, it was 51 percent of third grade, 24 percent of fourth and 22.9 percent of fifth.
The fifth grade at Chenowith posted the lowest math scores, though progress was made by year’s end, as tracked by a test given three times a year.
In fall, just 4 percent of students met or exceeded state math standards, but it reached 18 percent by year’s end. In the yearly state testing, 22.9 percent met the standard.
One academic problem area was the middle school, where students slid backward in terms of meeting state standards. Armstrong said teachers there were teaching multiple subjects each, and this coming school year, “in English language arts, we’re going to have consistent, core teachers.”
The middle school had tried a humanities block that saw teachers teaching a combination English and social studies class.
“We’re un-ringing that bell. We’re not seeing the results we want,” she said.
Also, she said, “We had a number of new teachers last year too.”
In reading, all three middle school grades lost ground in terms of the percentage of students meeting the state standard. It was down 5.8 percent for sixth grade, 1.6 percent for seventh and 3.8 percent for eighth.
In state testing, 29.6 percent of sixth graders met reading standards, as did 42.7 percent of seventh graders and 38.6 percent of eighth graders.
A bright spot was a 10.8 percent growth for seventh graders in math who met state standards. Sixth graders were down 9.5 percent and eighth graders were down .7 percent.
In math, 22.7 percent of sixth graders met state standards, 33.3 percent of seventh graders did and 28.7 percent of eighth graders did.
In science, a test for eighth graders, 69.8 percent met state standards, down 5.7 percent from last year.
The percentage of students taking the state tests at the middle school was “phenomenal,” Armstrong said, with 99.5 percent of all students taking the reading test, and at least 98.4 percent taking the math test.
She said the middle school will have eighth graders mentoring sixth graders, and the school will focus on positive, meaningful rewards for both students and staff.
The middle school will also be emphasizing after-school activities, she said.