Spring State test results reveal promising growth – highlight need for continued progress
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal released results from the spring 2023 state tests on Friday, September 8. Students participated in the Smarter Balanced (SBA) English Language Arts and math assessments as well as the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS). In his communication, Reykdal noted, “Our schools, community partners, and the state get better each year at targeting resources to the students who would benefit from additional supports, and in many communities, they are seeing their efforts make a difference.”
Those efforts ring true for many Walla Walla students. “Areas of success were experienced locally, especially at key transition years,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “However, continued work remains to ensure all Walla Walla students meet or exceed performance expectations.”
Highlights of accomplishments include 3rd grade results, a critical benchmark year that research has shown can be influential in a child’s future school and post high school success. While state scores were relatively flat from the prior year, WWPS 3rd grade students revealed an 8% improvement in English Language Arts (ELA) and a 4% improvement in mathematics.
“Four years ago our 3rd graders trailed behind the state by 14% in math and 18% in ELA,” noted Superintendent Smith. “That gap has been narrowed by double digits due to the incredible work of our educators both during and following the pandemic, in addition to our district’s focus on access to early learning.”
This success is even more notable as nearly 30% of Walla Walla 3rd graders participate in the dual language program, where students spend a majority of the time in early elementary years mastering the Spanish language before transitioning predominantly English by the end of elementary, ensuring fluency in both languages.
Additional highlights include middle school performance where nearly every grade in every subject assessed outpaced statewide growth, marking strong progress towards closing achievement gaps. At the high school level, growth in science soared, surpassing the state levels by 20%.
While promising growth was realized, and the achievement gap between state and local performance continues to narrow across most grades and subjects, more work is necessary to ensure each and every child realizes their full potential, according to Executive Director for Teaching and Learning Christy Krutulis.
“When we dove into our prior strategic plan, we trailed the state in every grade and every subject, in some cases by double digits,” said Krutulis. “Our staff have greatly narrowed the achievement gaps by focusing on promise standards, interventions and collective efficacy strategies, and are poised to soon surpass state assessment scores.”
The number of students living in poverty, who qualify for English Language services, and those with an identified disability, far exceed state levels, making this year’s state assessment gains even more impressive. Poverty in Walla Walla Public Schools is 69%, almost 20% higher than statewide levels. Additionally, the percentage of students receiving specialized services for language and disability are also on the rise, well above statewide demographic numbers.
“While our student demographics reveal a population far different than the state as a whole, we are laser-focused on outperforming statewide results at every grade and every subject,” states Dr. Smith. “Aided by our Vision 2030 Strategic Plan, talented staff, and supportive community, we are on the right course and poised to deliver on our vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.”
For a complete look at all district state assessment information, visit the OSPI school report card: