OLYMPIA, Wash. -- This year's statewide test results, released Tuesday, show more students are passing their math and science exams.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn credits Washington's new math learning requirements for helping kids and teachers better understand what students need to learn.
"I give our state's educators a lot of credit. This has been a statewide effort, from the people who wrote the new math standards to those who teach our students. We must maintain this positive momentum," Dorn said.
Results from the new end-of-course exams for algebra and geometry are available for the first time. It appears students are doing better on the new exams than they did on the cumulative high school math exam.
Most elementary and middle school students also are doing better on their math tests, and science scores are improving as well.
Dorn said teachers gave him two reasons why high school math test results have improved: The state's new math learning requirements are clearer, and students like taking the exams at the end of the classes where they learned the material instead of sometime in the future.
Math scores in grades 3-8 increased in every grade except eighth.
"We have made math a high priority in this state, so it's gratifying to see the improvement," Dorn said.
What hasn't improved is the number of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Preliminary figures show 1,388 Washington schools were on that list in 2011, an increase of about 200 schools from 2010.
A total of 223 school districts -- out of 295 in the state -- failed to make adequate yearly progress in 2011.
To make adequate yearly progress, a certain percentage of students in a school or district need to pass the state's reading and math tests each year. The results are broken down by ethnic group and poverty level and if one category of students fails to meet its goals, the whole school fails.
By 2014, all states are required to have a goal that all students in all schools pass the reading and math tests.
"Under AYP in 2014, a school or district could have 99 percent of its students at proficiency and still be deemed as needing improvement," Dorn said. "This is a highly flawed law."
Congress has been debating changes in the law for years.