If you listened to our State Superintendent Randy Dorn announce the yearly state and federal student progress reports this morning, you’d be shit scared to put your child in public school: More than $1 billion has been cut from the state’s public education system, while there have also been cuts to after-school programs, cuts to boys and girls programs, cuts to YMCA programs, cuts to programs helping struggling students… cuts, cuts, cuts everywhere.

Dorn said these sacrifices have partly caused the ups and downs in this year’s Measurement of Student Progress (MSP)—which tests third through eighth graders—and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE).

As if middle-schoolers aren’t already struggling with overcrowded classrooms, fewer teachers, and puberty, the state has gone ahead and made MSP math tests far more rigorous this year. Dorn said that although he had expected mixed results with the introduction of new state tests and online testing, the results also reflect two straight years of cuts to the K-12 education budget. “We are doing more with less and expecting more out of our kids,” he said.

Seattle Public Schools appear to be slightly better off (.pdf) than the rest of the state, with students’ average scores nearly four points higher than the state average.

The Annual Yearly Progress scores mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind (which expects all schools to reach 100 percent proficiency in math and English by 2014) aren’t too smashing either—45 percent (968) of Washington public schools failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. Fifty-four percent (1,143 schools) did meet them, which is only slightly better than previous years. The Seattle school district failed to meet AYP requirements this year (only 25 schools in the district hit the AYP requirements, while 58 did not). Seattle Public Schools Director of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Brad Bernatek says that the AYP needs to be about more than just meeting standards. “It needs to more about individual student growth,” Bernatek says.

When asked by a reporter at today morning’s press conference if student test scores should be used to evaluate teacher performances—a sticking point in the on-going contract negotiations between the Seattle teachers union and Seattle Public Schools—Dorn replied he was not against it. However, Dorn stressed that he was more inclined toward schools, not individuals, getting monetary rewards for improving test scores.