8th grade basic skills test scores show improvement

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/5/98.

ďIím very pleased and happy with the basic skills test scores,Ē Deb Gillman, Paynesville Area Middle School Principal, said.

ďWe have five students who scored 100 percent on the reading test and three with perfect scores on the math test. That has never happened before,Ē she stressed.

Minnesota eighth-graders posted impressive gains in reading and showed slight improvement in math, according to 1998 state basic skills test scores released Thursday, April 30. The tests are part of the graduation standards required to be meet before graduation.

Gillman said each year the students are showing gains on the averages. Danith Clausen, Paynesville curriculum coordinator, added the district is showing significant changes upward.

One hundred and twenty-nine Paynesville eighth grade students took the basic skills test in January.

The Paynesville students recorded 71 percent of the class passed the reading test and 75 percent passed the mathematics test. However, Paynesville scored 80 and 81 percent on the overall average percentage score (percentage of questions students answered correctly), according to the Minnesota Children and Family Learning Department.

This year, for the first time, all eighth graders in every school district were mandated to take the basic skills test in math and reading, making it possible to compare the performance of schools and districts against each other. Nearly 96 percent of the stateís students took the tests.

In previous years, some schools tested only a portion of the students. ďThis year the only way a student could be exempt from the test was to be a special needs student not capable of taking the test,Ē Clausen said.

Gillman said the district had 15 students who fell in the range of missing the passing percentage (75 percent) by only one or more questions. ďThe state indicated that with maturity those students would pass the test the next time around,Ē Gillman said.

Gillman added that those students with scores in the 55 percentile bracket indicate there are learning gaps in their education and need help.

Gillman reminded people reviewing the test scores that the eighth graders were being tested on minimum adult skill level, not eighth grade skill level.

Students not pasing the test as eighth graders can retake it as ninth graders. Studens can keep taking the test each year until they pass. Clausen said of the 10th graders taking the test, only six still need to pass the math test to graduate and eight need to pass the reading test. Among the ninth grade students retaking the test, more than half passed the math test, leaving 15 left to retake the test again and 25 to retake the reading test next year.

In January, Michelle Anderson conducted classes on Saturday to provide the ninth and 10th graders extra help before taking the test. ďThe majority of the students made gains and in some cases, they were extraordinary,Ē Clausen said.

Clausen said the staff stressed to the students they needed to take their time taking the reading test and the students shouldnít feel rushed. Three class periods were set aside for the students to take the test. At the eighth grade level, many of the students needed the full time period to complete their tests.

ďIím proud of how they took the test and weíre very happy about the results,Ē Clausen said. ďSchool districts among the top scores had a good representation from small rural school districts.Ē

Gillman said the test scores will be mailed to parents this week along with mid-term reports.

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