We are supposed to be pleased that collectively the students in the Lake Washington School District did better than students from across the state on the MSP, the state's standardized test. Let's remember that these MSP scores represent the number of students who passed the tests - and it also represents the number of students who failed. For 4th grade math, the district's 81.5 percent is certainly better than the state's 62.5 percent, but when we translate this into how each individual student fared on the 4th grade math exam, the numbers aren't so impressive.
For every 5 fourth graders in the Lake Washington School District, 1 student is failing math. For every 10 seventh graders, 3 are failing math. As a parent and volunteer in the district, I can tell you that when students fail the 4th grade math MSP, they are very far behind. When 7th graders fail the math MSP, they are far more likely to drop out. In 2011, when my child was a 5th grader at Horace Mann Elementary, there were a number of students who had failed the 4th grade MSP math test given the previous school year. Horace Mann had no formal plan for addressing failing students, so we inquired if supplemental funds were available from the district to target students with failing MSP scores. We were told that there was no money available "due to budget cuts." Eventually, an ad-hoc group of parents ended up tutoring the failing students to try to get them up to speed. This is no way to provide educational assistance to students who need help the most. Read More >>
What will the district do for those students who failed the 2012-2013 MSP? What about the students who passed - will the district provide advanced learning opportunities for those students who received 4s? What about the students who received 3s? What is the purpose of standardized testing if the Lake Washington School District does not use the scores to target improvement? Is the only reason the school district does testing because it's a state and federal requirement? The tone of this press release contains a complacency that implies that the district is pleased with the testing results. But the numbers tell the story: 20% of LWSD 4th graders and 30% of 7th graders failed the math MSP test that was given last spring. BRAGGING ABOUT A 20-30% FAILURE RATE IS NOT IMPRESSIVE. It's alarming!
And while we're talking about the MSP, why does it take so long to get test scores? Other standardized test scores (ACT, SAT, ISEE, etc) are all returned electronically in a matter of weeks. Why do we have to wait until the END of the summer or even after the following school year has started to receive test scores? How can parents and school administrators plan?