Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Reading gains, but achievement gaps for Highline Schools

by Matt Rosenberg September 14th, 2012

Sixth-graders in the Highline School District in southwest King County fully closed the reading proficiency test score gap last year, catching up with the statewide performance average after years of lagging behind, according to the 2012 State Test Results and Teaching and Learning Review presented to the board earlier this week. The diverse urban district lies just south and southwest of Seattle, serving about 18,000 K-12 students in Boulevard Park, White Center, SeaTac, Burien, Normandy Park, and Des Moines.

Students in grades three through eight statewide take the Measurement of Student Progress or MSP test each year in math, reading and science. Student scores fall into one of four groups. Level 1 is “below basic” proficiency and Level 2 is “basic, or below standard.” Levels 3 (“proficient”) and 4 (“Advanced”) are considered passing. Almost 62 percent of the Highline district’s sixth graders in 2011-2012 passed the reading MSP, slightly higher than the statewide average, the first time they equalled or exceeded their peers by that measure. Similar tests are given to public secondary school students in Washington state, called the High School Proficiency Exam or HSPE. To be awarded a diploma for graduation students must pass their HSPEs or complete alternative work portfolios. Like their local counterparts, state education officials say they know standardized tests aren’t the whole enchilada, but that they’re key nonetheless.

Below is a graphic depiction from the Highline District report, showing how sixth-graders have been steadily closing the performance gap with the state average passage rate for reading MSP.


The district report also shows a continuing achievement gap between higher scoring white and Asian students versus other racial groups. The graphic below demonstrates this with respect to MSP math scores for students in grades three through six, and also in grades seven and eight.


The Highline district report to the school board shows similar achievement gaps in the MSP reading scores.


Highline’s Class of 2013 12th graders also demonstrated varied success rates by racial group on the HSPE math exam last year, according to the recent district report.


The district’s administration accents it’s working to close achievement gaps, and raise overall achievement and college readiness:


The district’s online interface to update parents on student performance is designed to clearly and comprehensibly break performance into its key components, while underscoring overall readiness and availability of additional resources.


RELATED: Tutorial: Using The Washington Achievement Data Explorer (to compare and contrast districts), Public Data Ferret.


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