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Saturday, September 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Eastside WASL scores mirror state's, including dips

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Friday's release of the 2005-06 WASL scores had some surprises for Eastside districts, with across-the-board increases in eighth-grade science, but dips in many districts' seventh-grade scores.

The Eastside scores largely mirrored statewide trends, with 10th-graders making increases in most subject areas, but many districts still struggling to boost scores for fourth- and seventh-grade math.

"Overall, there are some really bright spots in these scores," said Sara Niegowski, spokeswoman for the Issaquah School District. "In other areas, we are really puzzled."

Also mirroring a statewide trend, every Eastside district saw seventh-grade reading scores drop. Most districts saw slight dips, or a plateau, in fourth- and seventh-grade math. Mercer Island and Riverview were the only Eastside districts to see seventh-grade math scores increase.

For Bellevue, the dip in scores came as a surprise after the district saw increases in nearly every grade level and every subject in last year's results.

This year, Bellevue saw increases in 10th-grade reading and writing, eighth-grade science and fourth-grade writing. Scores in the other areas dipped slightly or stayed about the same.

"Did we [all area school districts] get better at teaching writing, and we all got worse at teaching reading in the seventh grade?" asked Ann Oxrieder, spokeswoman for Bellevue. "We don't know what to do with the data. We have to dig deeper."

All seven Eastside school districts saw gains in eighth-grade science.

That's a good start for that class, whose students will need to pass the science section again as 10th-graders as part of their high-school graduation requirements, said Kathryn Reith, spokeswoman for the Lake Washington School District. The science section will be a graduation requirement for Washington students starting in 2010.

"We're thinking ahead," Reith said. The district credits much of the increase on new science curricula started in elementary and middle schools about two years ago.

Most districts saw their 10th-graders make improvements, and at Snoqualmie Valley and Lake Washington, 10th-graders increased their scores in every subject area. Snoqualmie Valley 10th-graders had a 15-point increase in reading and a 10-point increase in math from the previous year.

Despite those strides, Snoqualmie Valley is among the Eastside districts with the fewest 10th-grade students passing the math, reading and writing sections of the WASL. Passing those sections is a requirement for the class of 2008 to graduate high school.

Mercer Island has the highest percentage of 10th-grade students from any Eastside district who have met the standards for reading, writing and math.

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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