The State of Washington has once again changed the assessment instruments used to check student learning. The new tests are called "Smarter Balance" assessments and will increase the rigor of the tests significantly. According to the Smarter Balance web site, the "assessments will go beyond multiple-choice questions to include extended response and technology enhanced items, as well as performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Performance tasks challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to complex real-world problems. They can best be described as collections of questions and activities that are coherently connected to a single theme or scenario. These activities are meant to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with traditional assessment questions. The performance tasks will be taken on a computer (but will not be computer adaptive) and will take one to two class periods to complete.

Smarter Balanced capitalizes on the precision and efficiency of computer adaptive testing (CAT). This approach represents a significant improvement over traditional paper-and-pencil assessments used in many states today, providing more accurate scores for all students across the full range of the achievement continuum."

The OSPI website has some information regarding the new tests. Specifically, parents and students may find these links helpful:

There is a site with Interactive Sample Math Items available.

Additionally, there are printable versions of those items.

Printable Versions of Sample Items

English/Language Arts, by grade bands:

Short Answer:                   ELA 3-5            ELA 6-8           ELA 11

Activity and Performance:   ELA 3-5            ELA 6-8           ELA 11

Math, by grade bands:

Short Answer:                    Math 3-5          Math 6-8          Math 11

Acitivy and Performance:     Math 3-5          Math 6-8          Math 11

Dave Vetter, Principal at Raymond Junior/Senior High, has been chosen as the League Distinguished Principal of the Year by the Washington Association of Secondary School Principals. He will be recognized at a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel in Seatac on 27 October.

Congratualtions Mr. Vetter!

Raymond, WA - August 28, Raymond School District took advantage of historically low interest rates in the municipal bond market and completed the refinancing of its 2004 Unlimited Tax General Obligation Refunding Bonds. The original 2004 bond proceeds had been used to refinance the District's 1999 and 1994 prior voted debt (which financed the construction of the new high school, renovated the elementary school and added classrooms and a gymnasium).

The refinancing will reduce debt repayment costs by approximately by a total of $170,000 over the next four years, when the debt will be retired. Working with Martin Nelson and Company, the District was able to replace the 3.87% average interest rate currently paid on its outstanding 2004 debt with a new rate of 1.22%.

The District was able to secure such low interest rates through the use of an inaugural credit rating from Standard and Poor's and the utilization of a guarantee from Washington State to pay the District's debt service in the event of default. The District's first effort to acquire its own credit rating yielded a strong result. Standard and Poor's awarded the District an "A+" ranking as a result of its highly stable finances, strong liquidity and modest debt load.The S&P rating award also reflected the District's financial success from prior e-learning programs.

"We continue to seek ways to be effective and efficient with taxpayer funds" said Superintendent Dr. Steve Holland. We know our residents are concerned about the economy and we felt these cost reduction efforts were important. The District chose to enter the bond market now so that taxpayer savings could be achieved while interest rates are still at generational lows".

"The refinancing opportunity surfaced in June of this year and we felt it was important to complete the project now before interest rates turned volatile and we found ourselves missing an opportunity to reduce interest costs by 2.65% per year," said Fiscal Officer, Tera Stephens.

Former RHS Principal Ron Bell was appointed to the board on May 22nd at the Raymond School District board meeting. The board expressed their appreciation to all interested applicants, which included Ms. Julie Gardner and Ms. Kim Rumbles, as well as Mr. Bell. Mr. Bell, who has been a teacher, coach and counselor, stressed that the reason he wished to be on the board was to contribute to the community and ensure that all students have the best education possible. The appointment was required because current board member Beth Stevens will resign from the school board as of June 11th. Bell's appointment will become effective when he is sworn in at the June board meeting on the 26th, and will last until the next general election.

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