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Test Scores In Washington State Show Persistent Gaps By Race And Income Levels


Only about 48 percent of eighth graders in Washington state met the standard in math this past school year.

The state schools superintendent’s office has just released test results for the Smarter Balanced assessment for a number of grades. Overall, test scores trended down a bit compared with a year earlier.

For example, on the English language arts assessment, 59 percent of eighth graders met the standard compared with 60 percent last year.

The state is putting the final touches on its plan for how to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act. Within that plan, Washington has set a goal of having 90 percent of kids proficient in math and English by the year 2027 and eliminating gaps among kids of different races and income levels.

“We think 90 percent is incredibly aggressive and ambitious and difficult, but we owe it to our students to be that aggressive in our plan, and we won’t do it unless we really focus on the kids who need help,” said Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction.

The most recent data continue to show lower scores for African-American, Native American and Hispanic youth compared with white and Asian students. For example, about 27 percent of African-American eighth graders met the math standard compared with 54 percent of white students and 74 percent of Asian students.

Reykdal said the gaps reveal a need for schools to adapt.

“It’s about recruiting teachers differently so that we get a more diverse workforce,” he said. “It’s about our existing teachers and educators and training them more effectively.”

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.
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