SEATTLE (AP) — Statewide test results released Wednesday show more Washington state students are passing their science and math exams, but reading scores are down at some grade levels.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said a new emphasis on science in earlier grades and end-of-course exams in high school seem to be making a difference.

Some of the most significant improvements were seen in the science passing rates in fifth and eighth grades. About 66 percent of kids in those grades passed their science exams last spring, while last year’s passing rates were 55.7 percent in fifth grade and 61.6 percent in eighth grade.

Reading passage rates were down slightly in third, eighth and 10th grades, and writing pass rates dropped a bit in 10th grade.

Dorn said he was particularly pleased with the passage rates on the high school math and science exams, especially since some of the 10th graders taking these tests, which are now supposed to be given at the end of a class, took the exam at least a year after they took the class.

The class of 2013 — this year’s senior class — is the first group required to pass a math exam to graduate. So far, 78.3 percent have passed a math exam and 74 percent of those students have met all their state testing requirements.

The problem is, Dorn said, is that some the senior class still need to pass more than one test. Some of those same students also do not have the credits they need to graduate, he added.

Dorn notes that the numbers are most stark among children from various ethnic groups, who also have higher drop-out rates.

“We’re losing half of our Native American students and we must do better,” Dorn said.

Last spring was the second time high school students took end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry. Students in the class of 2014 took the biology end-of-course exam for the first time this past school year. A total of 61 percent passed the test. That’s an improvement over the number of students in past years who passed the general science exam.

— Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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