Student test scores improve in Yakima County

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Hours of studying and homework seemed to have paid off in Yakima County with better test scores in both reading and math. Brenda Bone has two grandchildren in school and has seen them doing better. She said her grandson made big strides in reading and math.

"What do you think teachers are doing to help them improve?" asked KIMA.
"Giving a lot of extra attention, extra time," said Brenda.

Elementary schools in Yakima, West Valley, East Valley and the Sunnyside school districts did better across the board with some exceptions. Lee Maras is the principal of Adams Elementary school in Yakima where 65 percent of the students didn't speak English when they started there. He credited his school's language program for higher scores.

"They can take the assessments and can be competitive with anyone in the state and that's a big change for a school like ours," said Lee.

Results for 10th grade tests were also strong. Almost 85 percent of students in East Valley met the state standard last year compared to 75 percent the year before. Yakima, West Valley and Selah districts also got better. But, Sunnyside dropped.

More high school students met the Math standards as well. Selah had 71-percent passing while only 33-percent did a year ago. Sunnyside saw a dramatic improvement.

East Valley's superintendent said the "BIG 5 initiative" that gets staff more involved has made a difference.

"We've seen more growth this past year than we've ever seen," said John Schieche. "I think we're seeing the fruits of our work."

Brenda Bone hoped to see that growth continue as her grandchildren worked their way through the school system.