Federal Way school district reviews End of Course exam results

Federal Way Public Schools - Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools
Federal Way Public Schools
— image credit: Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools

Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) board of directors heard a report back about what appeared to be dismal results for the district when it comes to End of Course (EOC) exams.

A public commenter at a recent meeting pointed out that the first round of EOC scores for the district, which saw 34.7 percent of students passing the algebra EOC, didn’t seem to reflect well on FWPS, especially in terms of the district’s historic issues with graduation rates. However, Dave Davis, director of assessment for the district, and Sue McCrummen, a teacher on special assignment for secondary math, said that 34.7 percent statistic was provided without the proper context.

Part of the problem, Davis said, is that the 34.7 percent stat is essentially a snapshot in time of a group of students between grades six through 12 and doesn’t include other data that would reflect better on the district.

“2,785 students in grades six through 12 took this specific assessment,” he said, “(and) this percentage does not include students who previously passed an EOC algebra assessment. ‘Previously passed’ is only included in the (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI) report at the 10th and 11th grades, and is 68.4 percent.”

Davis addressed the previous commenter’s concerns about disparities in geometry scores/participation as well, saying the subjects have an impact on those numbers.

“When you have grades six through 12 taking that test, you have a lot more middle schoolers taking (the geometry test) then you otherwise would. Of that specific test, for that timeframe, in algebra, 1,064 students took that test, compared to 371 (for geometry),” Davis pointed out.

According to the available data, 61.5 percent of students of the 1,650 total students who took the Geometry EOC in Spring 2013 passed. That figure did not include 958 students who previously passed a geometry EOC.

And while the EOC is the newest and most visible form of assessment that’s a graduation requirement, Davis pointed out that students, once they’re into their senior year, have a number of other options to demonstrate their mastery of the subject at hand.

Among them are adequate scores on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests, adequate scores on the SAT or the ACT tests, or getting a passing score on a “collection of evidence portfolio,” essentially a number of items of the student’s work that’s compiled and sent to OSPI for review. There’s also the “grade comparison” method, Davis noted.

Currently, FWPS students appear to be well positioned regarding the EOC requirements, said McCrummen. She said 93.8 percent of seniors met their math requirement in 2013.

“This year, the 2014 seniors are currently at 75.3 percent. That number doesn’t represent the EOC from this winter, we have not received those scores yet, or the collection of evidence portfolio scores,” she said. “The (class of) 2015 are our current juniors, 64.9 precent are currently meeting their graduation requirement in mathematics. Our sophomores are at 53.4 percent, and finally our freshmen are at 39.5 percent. We anticipate all of those percentages will go up.”

Board vice president Geoffery McAnalloy pointed out that 39.5 percent of freshmen, not even through their first year in high school, have already completed a graduation requirement, which should be viewed as a positive for the district. Board member Tony Moore asked if the first round of data from these EOC results is being digested in order to help students continue to improve.

“We are working on looking at the current information and speaking with interventionists, instruction coaches, teachers, principals, and finding ways that we can modify courses and bring in standards … so we can improve scores and continue to grow without students having to repeat the course over and over,” McCrummen said.

“It’s kind of neat in terms of standards based. (Students) are getting another opportunity to demonstrate standard, by sitting for the assessment again … As they roll into their senior year, they can use those other methods to demonstrate standard, like the SAT, like the collection of evidence, like the grade comparison … It’s not just about the EOC assessment, if they’re not successful on that, they have other options,” Davis said.


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