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Bremerton WASL scores dropping: District losing ground to state average

Although the numbers show the Bremerton School District backsliding versus the state numbers in the recently released WASL results, there are far too many factors involved to take those scores as a straight-up assessment of the progress the district is making.

In the 20 categories measuring reading, math, writing and science in third through eighth and tenth grades, the state scores went up in 12 areas, down in seven, and held steady in one other. The Bremerton results have eight scores going up with the other 12 down.

“We have a high mobility factor and a high poverty rate, both of which likely to yield lower scores,” said Bob Hamilton, the district’s special education and assessment director. “We’re not making an excuse, but those are the facts.”

Hamilton pointed out many areas where the Bremerton schools are doing very well. For example, seventh grade scores have risen significantly in all areas in the past few years. “When you look at those numbers you can see that we would not have reached those levels by chance,” he said. “I think this shows the success of the focus on instruction that Linda Sullivan-Dudzic and our staff are using at that level.”

Another area of significant success is in tenth grade test scores for African-American students, which are higher across the board than the state average among that group.

The district had a more positive change than the state in seven categories, but in five areas where the state scores climbed, Bremerton’s fell, and those are the areas where the district lags the farthest behind the standard.

Twenty-nine point seven percent of eighth graders passed the math exam in Bremerton, down from the 34.1-percent in 2005-06. The statewide numbers went up to 49.5 percent, and are now 19.8 percentage points ahead of Bremerton.

Bremerton lags 15.7 percentage points behind the state in seventh grade writing, where the district fell from 55.9 percent to 52.4. That score is however significantly higher than where the students were in the 2003-04 year, where only 39 percent passed the test.

Science is the area where scores are the lowest both statewide and in the Bremerton schools. Bremerton is ahead of the state average in the fifth grade scores at 39.7-percent. The state is at 36.4-percent. Bremerton scores dropped in the eighth and tenth grade science exams, with the both grades reporting the lowest percentage since 2003-04.

The other area where the district is leading the state standard is in fifth grade reading, where Bremerton is at 71.9-percent.

“We’re continuing to work very hard to do the best we can for every student,” said Sullivan-Dudzic, the special programs director.

Towards that end, every elementary school in the district is offering before or after school programs at no cost for children who have failed, or are in danger of failing the WASL. Additionally, during the regular school day teachers are looking to give students extra time in areas of need.

At the middle school, administrators have studied every students’ schedule and are examining places where supplemental instruction can be offered.

At all levels of the district teachers are holding weekly meetings to talk planning and to exchange strategies for motivating students.

“We’ve got the improved curriculum, and we’ve done the best teacher training,” Sullivan-Dudzic said, “now we’ve got to get the students motivated to be fully involved in the curriculum.”

To view all the WASL scores you can go to www.k12.wa.us and follow the links to the Bremerton scores.

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