News

Student exam results are what officials expected

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

Federal Way Public Schools third and sixth graders are about where they should be academically based on a recent assessment test, according to a district official.

While this year’s third and sixth-graders in Federal Way generally scored lower on the national Iowa Test of Basic Skills assessment than last year’s group –– and third graders were below the average of their peers statewide –– the scores are not unexpected, said Pat Cummings, the district’s assessment director.

Historically, the results of the Iowa test have seesawed slightly from year to year, he said. A change of a percentile or two is not significant.

The students in both grades were tested in math and reading, and the sixth-graders had a language section. The test has been used for decades and measures students’ basic skills through multiple-choice questions and compared to the “average” student anywhere in the country. It is taken in the spring.

According to the state superintendent of public instruction, statewide students scored above the national average of 50 percent. For the last two years, the state’s scores for the different sections have been between 54 percent and 67 percent. In short, a score of 67 percent means students did the same or better than 67 percent of the students nationwide.

Locally, students have remained above the national average for at least the last six years.

But this year’s third-grade students in the Federal Way district scored in the 55th percentile in reading and the 64th in math. The 2002-03 crop of students scored in the 57th and 66th percentiles for reading and math, respectively.

Compared to their classmates statewide, third-graders in Federal Way had lower percentiles. Across the state, students were in the 58th percentile in reading and 67th percentile for math.

This year’s sixth-grade students in Federal Way scored in a higher percentile (60th) than the state average (55th) in math. In the district, the percentile remained the same.

The district’s sixth-grade students were lower than the state in reading at the 53rd percentile compared to the state’s 55. Federal Way’s 2002-03 sixth-graders were in the 54th percentile.

In the language section, the state percentile score and the district’s were the same at 55. Last year, the district’s sixth-graders were one percentile higher.

The state superintendent is touting the improved scores of minorities in the state. African-Americans statewide are below the national average, but were in the 46th percentile in the third-grade reading portion of the ITBS, compared to the 45th percentile in 2003. Hispanics in the sixth grade have remained steady for two years in math at the 37th percentile. Native American third graders’ scores declined from 2003 in both reading and math. In ‘03, the percentiles for reading and math were 45 and 54 respectively. In 2004, the scores dropped to 43 and 50.

Asian students statewide put up the highest percentiles for minorities this year. Fifty-seven percent scored at the national average or higher in reading and were in the 75th percentile for math. Sixth-grade students were in the 54th percentile in reading, 64th percentile in language (no change from the previous two years) and 68th percentile in math.

White students across the state matched their peers from 2003 with the same percentiles in each test section for both grades. Third-graders were in the 63rd percentile for reading and 72nd percentile for math. In the sixth grade, those numbers are 61st percentile for reading, 59th percentile for language and 62nd percentile for math.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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