Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/news/education/0809stanford9.html

Stanford 9 test scores on slow rise in Arizona
The Arizona Republic
August 9, 2002
Pat Kossan

Arizona schoolkids continued their slow climb to the national average in reading, math and language skills, according to the 2002 Stanford 9 test scores released Thursday.

Most overall statewide scores jumped a point or two over last year, with the highest gains in math.

"For a body as large as a state, a move up is significant if it's a 2-percentile point increment or more," state Assistant School Superintendent David Garcia said.

Sixth-graders earned the state's highest score with a 65 in math, 15 points higher than the national average of 50; the most disappointing news came from ninth-graders, whose reading scores have remained at 43 since 1997.

"To remediate a student at that age who can't read is an extremely difficult thing to do," Garcia said.

The test is taken by second- through ninth-graders each spring. This year, for the first time, students just learning English took the test in English, but their scores were not averaged in with state results.

Testing experts caution parents not to assume that the scores, high or low, truly reflect a child's progress or a school's quality. Parents need to visit the school and examine what's being taught, said Jeanne Miyaska of WestEd, an education research laboratory. "A parent ought to get beyond a single test score before they make a judgment," Miyaska said. "When you look at a score in a newspaper, it's difficult to interpret what's going on at the school."

The state will use Stanford 9 scores as part of a formula to determine if a school will be labeled in October as excelling, maintaining, improving or underperforming.

Dropout and graduation rates and the state's AIMS test scores also will be part of the criteria.