By SVERRE BAKKE
Trout Lake High School's current class of juniors have a report card they'll definitely want to take home to their parents.
Last spring as 10th-graders, the class posted scores on the science and math portions of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) that were among the highest in the state -- a performance the school district's superintendent and principal, Doug Dearden, hailed as "exceptional."
"The overall scores for our fourth- and seventh-graders were more on average," Dearden said, "but our 10th-graders were just outstanding. That's something we definitely want our community to know about."
Overall, 76.5 percent of Trout Lake 10th-graders met the standard in all four subject areas--reading, writing, math and science. (The state eliminated the "listening" category from the 2004 test.)
Moreover, among the 13 Trout Lake students who took the exam last spring, 76.9 percent of them met the WASL standard in three content areas: reading, math and science. In writing, 84.6 percent (22nd overall) met the standard, compared to 76.5 percent the year before.
Trout Lake's science score of 76.9 percent meeting the WASL standard, however, was the fourth-best in the state.
Only the 10th-graders of three achievement-based King County schools--Bellevue International School, Federal Way Public Academy and Lake Washington International Community School--had better science scores than Trout Lake's.
Science teacher John Elyard, in his fourth year at Trout Lake, said the 10th-graders' overall performance on the WASL was due in equal parts to teachers collaborating outside their disciplines, school staff creating a supportive environment for students taking the test, and students making a serious effort to do well.
"We set the tone as a school and made it into an activity and not just an event," Elyard said. "The staff worked as a team to instill a positive attitude and encouraged the kids to never quit, to do the best they could and to keep going, even when they thought they were done with a problem."
He added: "Their scores reflect how hard they worked and that they took the WASL seriously."
In math, Trout Lake 10th-graders' results put them eighth on the list.
Mary Calahan, who's taught math at Trout Lake going on 20 years, attributed the students' success to years of preparation steeped in the fundamentals of basic math, geometry and algebra.
"My opinion is that the students are taking (the WASL) more seriously. They understand that if they want to go on to college it's something they need to know," Calahan said.
Moreover, beginning in 2008, students will have to pass all four sections of the WASL in order to graduate.
"It's not super-difficult math, but you have to have the math skills to be able to answer the questions," Calahan noted. "The people hired by the state to score the test want to see the mental processes students go through in arriving at their answers. The questions are very much problem-solving oriented."
The baker's dozen of standout students also did particularly well on the reading portion (54th overall) of the WASL, with 76.9 percent scoring above average. In 2003, 70.6 percent of 17 students tested in 2003 excelled.
In math, 61.5 percent of the Trout Lake class scored above average on the 2004 exam; in science, 7.7 percent had above-average results.
By comparison, 64.7 percent and 29.4 percent of tested students, respectively, exceeded the math and science standards in 2003.
State averages for 2004 (of 10th-graders meeting the standard in the four content areas) were: 64.4 percent in reading, 43.9 percent in math, 65.2 percent in writing and 32.2 percent in science.
All four statewide scores were better than those recorded the previous year.