Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for March, 2013

WA achievement test pass rates mostly stagnant since 2006

by Matt Rosenberg March 11th, 2013


Recently updated state data packaged into customizable visualizations through the University of Washington-Bothell’s Center For Education Data and Research and its Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) tool show that for third, fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth-graders in Washington, average statewide pass rates on state achievement tests in math and reading have been either relatively flat or down between 2006 and 2012. Pass rates on the state tests have grown for sixth and seventh-graders. A series of visualizations follow; as we mine the OSPI/WADE data on statewide pass rate progress for all grades taking the tests. By clicking on “Explore Data” in any of the visualizations, users can enter WADE’s Google Public Data Explorer interface and add in other school districts to compare results to the statewide data.

Some previous reports we’ve generated here recently have compared statewide eighth-grade pass rates on the state math and reading tests with results from among major urban region school districts statewide; and from districts in Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. Now we’ll dive in to the state average pass rate results by grade – and progress, if any – from 2006 through 2012. Hover over the graph line for exact rates by year.

Most King County districts fare well on Grade 8 state tests

by Matt Rosenberg March 8th, 2013

In 11 of the 18 King County school districts reporting, the percent of eighth-grade students who passed the state math achievement test in 2012 surpassed the state average. But there was a sharp demographic divide in the outcomes. With the exception of Kent and Seattle, the 11 districts that had a higher than average percent of students who cleared that bar, have relatively higher incomes and lower minority enrollments, while all seven that underperformed the state on that measure were in South King County communities where incomes are on average lower and minority populations higher. On the eighth-grade state achievement test for reading the results were somewhat more encouraging, as 13 districts outperformed the state average pass rate and only five didn’t. On both tests, the top four districts included Mercer Island, Bellevue, Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah. At the other end of the scale, only five King County districts underperformed the state in eighth-grade pass rates for both math and reading last year. They were Renton, Auburn, Highline, Fife and Tukwila.

Overall, pass rates for eighth-graders in reading and math state achievement tests exceeded state averages in a significantly greater share of districts than for neighboring Pierce and Snohomish counties. But even in districts with higher pass rates – in King County and elsewhere across the state – those rates may have remained fairly flat over the last seven years. Following are two King County data visualizations.

Most Snohomish Districts Lag On State Reading Tests In 8th

by Matt Rosenberg March 7th, 2013

Of 13 Snohomish County school districts reporting results, eighth-graders in eight of them in 2012 lagged the state average in percent who could pass the state achievement test in reading. In math, seven of the 13 districts fell below the state average in percent of eighth-graders who could pass the state achievement test. Snohomish districts outperforming the state average in eighth-grade pass rates for both math and reading in 2012 were Northshore, Everett, Arlington and Mukilteo. Districts underperforming the state on both eighth-grade measures last year were Monroe, Marysville, Edmonds, Stanwood, Darrington and Lakewood. Three other districts exceed the state average in eighth-grade acievement test pass rates for one subject but not both: Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Snohomish. Two related data visualizations follow, below.

Bellevue to pay $750,000 to woman hit by city vehicle

by Matt Rosenberg March 6th, 2013

The Bellevue City Council Monday approved a settlement for $750,000 with a pedestrian who two years ago was struck and badly injured by a city vehicle driven by a parks department employee. The victim was Evelyn Rissman of Lynnwood, now 58, a certified pediatric nurse who works for Group Health in Bellevue. The driver, who later retired and is now deceased, was William Richard Sackville, a facilities operations specialist for the city parks department. The most recent public records available online show that in 2007 he earned $81,726 for the city, plus another $5,588 in overtime.

Privatize management of Lynnwood’s golf course, report urges

by Matt Rosenberg March 4th, 2013

In a report to be presented tonight to the Lynnwood City Council, the city’s director of parks and recreation strongly recommends the city privatize the management its troubled, money-losing golf course. The facility was the subject of a critical state audit in December because it has relied on continued bailouts from the city’s utility fund including a $1.3 million chunk of recent borrowing repaid slowly enough to constitute a “permanent diversion” of funds in violation of state law, auditors said. The city pledged to explore new options including closing or selling the course, or contracting out its management. The new report says the latter would “produce significant cost savings and efficiencies coupled with a strong marketing approach to produce higher revenues.”

Troubles for most Pierce County school districts in 8th grade

by Matt Rosenberg March 3rd, 2013

By a rate of more than two-to-one, public school districts in Pierce County last year underperformed the statewide average for percentage of eighth-graders who could pass Washington’s math achievement test. A majority of districts also lagged the statewide average in percent of eighth-graders who passed Washington’s reading achievement test. Using the Google Public Data Explorer tool and an interface developed by the Center for Education Research and Data of the University of Washington-Bothell, we run two related visualizations incorporating recently-released 2012 data and corollary outcomes dating back to 2006, in math and reading for all 17 Pierce County school districts.

Citizen Panel: Sound Transit Needs To Tighten It Up

by Matt Rosenberg March 1st, 2013

In its year-end 2012 Performance Report, presented Thursday at the monthly Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle, ST’s Citizen Oversight Panel took the regional transit agency to task for poor operating cost controls and questionable resource allocation choices, while revenues are 30 percent lower than expected. The COP says in its report that with the Great Recession having smacked down projected ST 2 revenues by nearly a third, Sound Transit needs to clamp down on growth in day-to-day costs such as a planned 9 percent bump in transit operations spending in 2013, and what has been an ongoing five percent average growth rate for agency operating costs. That includes overhead and a particular sore point, security.