School district raises minimum test standards | RecordCourier.com

School district raises minimum test standards

by Merrie Leininger

Along with the rest of the state, Douglas County students will be required to raise the bar of their own academic performances before graduation.

The Nevada Department of Education has raised passing grades for reading and math portions of the year-old proficiency tests.

In May 1998, the State Board of Education set the minimum passing scores at 70 percent for reading and 61 percent for math for students graduating at the end of the 1998-99 school year.

On Sept. 12, the board raised the minimum passing scores for the class of 1999-2000 to 71 percent for reading and 64 percent for math.

Coordinator for assessments, grants and project, Janice Florey, said this year’s passing scores were increased based on the average passing scores of the first group. However, those in the first group re-taking the test this year will not be held to those standards.

“Last year was the first time the test was given,” she said. “This year the students will take a different version of the same test, it will be just a little more difficult.”

Superintendent Pendery Clark said the district is happy the requirements have been raised.

“It is more challenging for students and it fits with what we’re trying to do with raising standards and requiring students demonstrate competencies before graduation,” she said.

n Douglas scores. Most students in Douglas did not have a problem passing the exams with the minimum scores, Florey said.

Of the 11th grade students who took the test in April, 74 percent passed the math portion while the total percentage of all Nevada students who passed the math exam was 66.8 percent.

Of Douglas students who took the test, 80.3 percent passed the reading portion, while 78.7 percent of Nevada students passed.

The proficiency test includes a writing portion, which is graded differently and scored differently. Instead of multiple choice, a student must write about two of four topics and two teachers grade each sample on a scale of 1-6.

The scores of each are combined and a student must get a combined score of 7 to pass.

Of the Douglas students who took the writing portion, 91.5 percent passed while 86.6 of Nevada students passed.

n Another chance. Students who did not pass the tests on the first try will have four more chances to pass the test in October, February, April and June. However, if students wait until June, they will not be able to take part in graduation ceremonies, Florey said.

A six-week math workshop was held at Douglas High School from 6:30-7:30 a.m. once a week for students to brush up on material that is on the tests. Students who did not pass the math portion last year could take the class for $50.

DHS Vice Principal Susan Baldwin said the reading and math portion of the test will be held Tuesday and Wednesday.

Writing will be tested in February.

She said the school offers the math class because reading and writing questions are addressed in English classes.

“It’s our responsibility to offer remediation to those who may not opt to take math,” she said. “The state only requires math for two years, so not all students are enrolled in a math class this year.”

Clark said two math classes have been added in the regular class schedule which incorporate the proficiency test items.

“It will be interesting to see what the results are,” she said. “There should be a fairly fast turnaround on results, then we will see if additional things need to be done to help the students,” Clark said.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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