11.25.14: Fifth graders across district excel on state science test
11.25.14: Fifth graders across district excel on state science test
Posted on 11/25/2014

Fifth graders excelled last spring on the state’s Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) science test.


Scores released this fall show that more than 90 percent of students at four of the district’s 21 elementary schools — Woodland, Maplewood, Fruitland, and Shaw Road — met or exceeded state standard.


Woodland Elementary had the highest MSP science score in the district with 97.5 percent of its students meeting standard.


This is also the third year in a row that more than 90 percent of the school’s fifth graders met the state science standard.


“We are so proud of Woodland fifth graders and their accomplishments on the 2014 science MSP assessment,” said Principal Heather McMullen. “The MSP science is a rigorous assessment requiring students to apply science concepts learned throughout the elementary grades and decipher scenario-based science questions.”


McMullen added, “At Woodland, you will see high expectations for students and excellent instruction in science at all grades and in our support classrooms.”


Districtwide, fifth-grade science scores edged up slightly compared to the previous year, with 75 percent of all students in that grade level meeting standard.


Students also outperformed the state average (66.8 percent) on the science tests administered last spring.


Glenn Malone, executive director of assessment, accountability, and student success, shared spring 2014 test score results at last month’s Puyallup School Board meeting.


Eighth-grade science scores dipped compared to the previous year, he said, however tenth-grade End-of- Course (EOC) biology exam scores continued an upward climb from the previous two years.

This continued growth is significant, Malone said, as this year’s twelfth graders (Class of 2015) are the first class of students that will be required to pass the biology EOC exam to graduate from high school.


The district has numerous instructional supports in place this year to assist students in meeting that graduation requirement, Malone said.


Testing changed in 2014


Last year was a unique testing year for many school districts statewide, including Puyallup.


All of this district’s fifth and eighth graders took the MSP science test as required by the state, but only two schools — Spinning and Firgrove elementary schools — also took the MSP in math, reading, and writing.

Firgrove Elementary students made significant gains in every subject and at every grade level, while Spinning Elementary showed growth in all but fifth grade, Malone said.


“This is great news for both schools,” he said.


Smarter Balanced Assessment


The rest of Puyallup’s elementary schools tried a new Smarter Balanced online assessment last spring that will be required of all Washington schools beginning in spring 2015.


Participation gave staff and students valuable practice with the new and more challenging assessment, Malone said.


The test will be given this spring to students in grades three through eight, and in grade 11. It is aligned to a set of national standards — or learning goals — in math and English language arts.


These standards are called Common Core, and they define the knowledge and skills students need to learn to be prepared for college and career opportunities.


Because last spring was only a trial run of the online assessment, student scores from the 2014 test were not sent this fall to school districts nor to the families of the students that participated.


Fifth and eighth graders districtwide did receive their MSP science scores and will continue to take that test each spring until it is replaced with one that will measure a new set of national science standards called Next Generation Science Standards.


New test brings new rigor


The new Smarter Balanced assessment, which will measure math and English literacy, is expected to be more rigorous than the MSP, Malone said.


Families can expect, therefore, to see a drop in student test scores in Puyallup and statewide beginning with the first year of implementation in spring 2015, he said.


To see a breakdown of how the Puyallup School District and its schools scored on last spring’s state exams, visit the state Superintendent of Public Instruction website at http://www.k12.wa.us/ and click the State Report Card icon.