Finding the right formula
Ongoing work to increase state math scores pays off for Henley High School As schools statewide struggle with math test scores, Henley High School seems to have found the right formula. Henley currently is ranked among the top 20 schools in the state for math test scores, scoring 21 percentage points above the state average and increasing its own scores by more than 23 percentage points in two years. Henley’s 53.6
percent score puts it as one of the top 4A schools and 17th overall out of 252 high schools in Oregon. Scores were released this fall and are posted on the Oregon Department of Education website.
“I’m pretty proud of what our teachers and students have done,” said Jack Lee, principal of Henley High School. Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District, said the district wants to build on effective strategies like those used at Henley to improve test scores districtwide. “We are always looking at new and innovative ways to best serve our students, and improving student performance scores is an ongoing effort,” he said. “To do so we are examining the strategies of teachers who are highly successful.”
In 2019, just under 54 percent of Henley juniors earned a passing score on the state exam, up from 44 percent in In 2017, only 29 percent of juniors passed the test. To pass, a student must score a 3 (meets the standard) or a 4 (exceeds the standard).
“The year we dipped in scores we took a look and changed the attitude about how our students approached the test,” Lee said. “We made the Smarter Balanced tests important, and our math scores came up significantly.”
Henley’s math teachers begin promoting the importance of the test in the fall of junior year. Juniors take the tests in the spring. The month before the tests, students go through a math boot camp that exposes them to the style of questions to expect and teaches them how to use the state testing site calculator.
“We’ve improved our math scores because we care,” said Henley math teacher Dee Hahn. “The teachers care so the students care. We show the state test is important and talk about it. Our kids care how well they do. They buy into it, that the test is important, and we’re going to try our hardest.”
Students take Smarter Balanced tests in spring. The tests assess student progress on Common Core standards and the likelihood students will graduate high school ready for college or a career. Students take the tests in grades 3-8 and 11, and they are graded on a 1-4 scale, with 4 being the highest. Students who score a 3 or 4 on the exams are considered proficient.
Of the district’s 11th-graders overall, 77.1 percent scored as proficient or above in reading and writing, 10.6 percentage points higher than the state average. In math, 36 percent of 11th-graders were proficient, 4 percentage points higher than the state average of 32 percent.