District juniors finish above state average

Exit exam scores on file

Posted: Thursday, September 07, 2000

Scores for Kenai Peninsula students on the new high school exit exam are close but slightly higher than statewide averages.

Wednesday evening the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District released preliminary results of the three-part exam, which students must pass within the next several years to earn diplomas.

The percentages of students who passed on their first try ranged from 38 percent in mathematics to 79 percent in reading. About half -- 49 percent -- passed the writing section.

Those results are a few percentage points higher than Alaska averages, which ranged from 33 to 75 percent.

"We did a little better," said Ed McLain, the district's assistant superintendent for instruction.

"Obviously we would like to see improvements."

The district had 860 sophomores last year eligible to take the first Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, which debuted in March. The test is mandated by state law for all students beginning with the class of 2002.

Those who did not pass will have opportunities to take the exam, with new questions, several more times. The next test date is in October.

Not all the eligible students actually completed the test, which was given over three days. About 765 students did take the tests.

The district is still trying to get a handle on the 90-some students who did not complete them. Some were absent, ill, opted out of the test or are severely handicapped, McLain said.

The passing percentages the district listed are based on the numbers who actually took the test, not on the class totals.

McLain pointed out that interpreting the test results has been complicated by several factors.

The state has not officially set the cutoff for passing scores. The cutoffs may or may not allow for statistical margins, which could dramatically change the passing percentages. And the rest of the information for analyzing results will not be available until about Sept. 15, he said.

Results could change because of those factors, he stressed.

Friday, McLain will attend the meeting of the State Board of Education and Early Development, which is scheduled to include comments on setting the passing scores.

The district plans to release details of scores over the next week, after Assessment Director Mark Leal has resolved problem reports and spoken to school principals.

The district wants to wait until the details are ironed out before releasing more data. Other districts have had to revise early information, and McLain wants to avoid that, he said.

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