City of Manassas

The following was among actions taken at the Oct. 23 meeting of the Manassas School Board. For more information, call 361-0166.

TEST SCORES -- Manassas students' average scores on standardized tests taken last school year showed a slight decline in a few areas on some tests, but remained above state and national averages, the schools' test administrator, John Durko, reported.

"We're maintaining our scores," Durko said this week. "There was improvement in many areas, a slight decline in other areas . . . . In essence, our scores are comparable to {those of} the districts in Northern Virginia and well above the state and national averages."

The following tests were administered to all students in the appropriate grades: the three-section Cognitive Abilities Test to first graders; the five-section Iowa Test of Basic Skills {ITBS} to first through eighth graders; the state Literacy Passport Test to sixth graders; and the six-section Tests of Achievement and Profciency {TAP} to ninth through 11th graders.

In his report to the School Board, Durko focused on fourth and eighth graders' scores on the ITBS, since it is mandated for those grades under state testing requirements.

Last year's fourth graders scored higher than the previous year's class on all five sections of the ITBS. The scores are based on percentile points, ranging from 1 to 99. Each point represents the number of students nationally who scored above or below that level.

Last year's fourth graders' average scores ranged from the 63rd to 69th percentile on the various sections -- 5 to 10 percentile points above the state averages and 12 to 23 percentile points above the national averages.

Last year's eighth graders' average scores -- in the 57th to 60th percentile on the five sections -- were below those of the previous school year's eighth graders on some sections, but 2 to 6 percentile points above the state averages and 2 to 18 percentile points above the national averages.

Durko also noted that 67.1 percent of all Manassas sixth graders passed the state Literacy Passport Test. Passing the test, which was administered for the first time last school year, is now required to enter the ninth grade. The state average for passing the test was 65.1 percent.

Durko's report also showed that minority students' average scores were generally lower than the average scores of white students on most standardized tests. However, Durko said those statistics were not alarming given the small numbers of minority students taking the tests. Typically one or two students scored very poorly on the test, bringing down a group's average score dramatically, he said.