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Test Scores and Proficiency Rates Climb for WCSD Students
by Tribune Staff
Sep 10, 2012 | 2299 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO -- Following two years of significant growth in proficiency rates, Washoe County School District students in third, fourth, and fifth grades posted their highest ever scores in reading and math, according to the latest results of standardized state tests administered last spring.

The WCSD reported Monday math proficiency rates rose by 6 percentage points between 2011 and 2012, climbing from 71 percent to 77 percent. The percentage of students proficient in math increased in every grade level as well.

In reading, the percentage of students who tested proficient increased from 61 to 65 percent between 2011 and 2012. In the same time period, WCSD saw increases in the percentage of proficient students in every grade level, except for sixth grade where it remained flat.

"These results provide powerful evidence that the Washoe County School District is on the right track,"Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. "Our proficiency rates are on the rise and our students' performance in core subjects is improving. We have strong momentum as we move forward in our quest to ensure every student is ready for college and highly-skilled careers when they graduate. There is much to celebrate in these test results, but we know that more work lies ahead.

Standard state tests in Nevada are called the Criterion Reference Tests (CRT). These tests determine whether students in third through eighth grade are meeting Nevada state standards in reading and math. Students in fifth and eighth grade are also tested on their knowledge of science.

Compared to previous proficiency rates, fifth-graders in 2012 posted the highest science proficiency rates in District history. Those rates rose from 58 percent to 63 percent between 2011 and 2012. During the same time period, science proficiency rates among eighth-graders rose from 49 percent to 51 percent. 

"These tests show that we're making real progress, and we are proud of our teachers, staff, and students," said Ken Grein, president of the Board of Trustees. "We are on our way toward achieving our goal of seeing all of our students graduate ready for college or highly-skilled careers."

In examining the test results, District officials also said the CRT results indicate that challenges remain, including a gap in achievement between some elementary student populations and low proficiency among middle school students. Those gaps and lapses in proficiency remain a point of concern for the District, which continues to conduct extensive outreach to students in need of help.

"Test results like these indicate that too many of our students are still not adequately prepared to confront the rigors of high school studies, which means they will face challenges down the road in college and in the workforce. We must continue to identify these students as soon as possible and provide support and resources for them before they fall through the cracks," Martinez said.

"The positive trend in performance serves to validate the significant efforts of our schools," said Paul LaMarca, Chief School Accountability Officer. "The large majority of our elementary schools and middle schools posted school-wide gains in both reading and math. We need to build on these strengths and work tirelessly to narrow achievement gaps."

Test scores and proficiency rates can be viewed in full at http://bit.ly/P6g8Km.
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anonymous
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September 12, 2012
Unless "Social Promotion" is eliminated, there will always be achievement gaps. Too many students matriculate through the system, while acquiring deficiencies. There is no student accountability until they reach high school.

Instead of relying on trends or fads, students would be better served by a common sense approach, better quality control of student performance, and greater accountability of the student, teacher and parent.
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