Puyallup, Clover Park, Bethel and Tacoma school districts are struggling with the Smarter Balanced Assessment test scores being below the state standard. The school districts’ graduation rates are still above the average for the state. The state average graduation rate is 79.1 percent according to The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The SBA is a standardized test used in 15 states and the test uses Common Core standards designed specifically for each particular state.
The standard for the Washington state SBA test is 69.5 percent in English and 40.6 percent in math.
There are multiple speculated reasons for why high schoolers in each of the districts mentioned are struggling to meet the standard for this test. One explanation primarily has shown that being in low-income urban districts can result in low test scores.
The Tacoma school district was the first to acknowledge its disappointment with its students’ test scores, particularly the math.
For the 2017 to 2018 school year, the Tacoma school district’s SBA results had 32 percent of their high schoolers reaching the standard for math and 46 percent for English.
Bethel school district had 38 percent meeting the standard for math and 53 percent in English. Clover Park had about 44 percent of students reaching the standard for math and 49 percent managed to keep up with the standard in English.
Brennan Fisher, a junior in the Bethel school district, admitted to being disappointed with the test scores and the way teachers are preparing students for the SBA test.
“I think it can be a little of the students’ fault but I think the majority of it is the teachers,” Fisher said. “A lot of the teachers don’t necessarily teach nowadays. You can’t really ask questions and it’s super fast paced and there is not a lot of one-on-one time.”
The low test scores are starting to be acknowledged. For Bethel School District, one of the first steps is starting a long-term solution. The district is trying to close the learning gap by focusing on elementary students.
The Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools in the Bethel school district Jennifer Bethman assured that there is work being put into rectifying the situation. Bethman said that the work being done with elementary students will go a long way to bridging the gaps as they move forward to middle and high school.
As the school districts are trying to focus on meeting the standard for test scores, Matthew Chingos, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Education Policy program, has a different opinion. His research showed that earning a good GPA is better than passing an exam. He found that the strongest predictor of a student gaining a college degree is if a student strives to attend class daily, study, take quizzes and finish homework.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost