2013 State of the District

Students making gains and schools improving; District announces five-year plan

District Scorecard, individual School Reports released Nov. 12, 2013

Students in Seattle Public Schools continue to make gains in academic achievement, and Superintendent José Banda on Tuesday, Nov. 12, said the District has established a strong foundation in recent years to deliver on its vision to ensure educational excellence and equity for each and every student.

"This is an exciting time to be a part of Seattle Public Schools," Banda said. "Enrollment is on the rise and our students are outperforming the state average in key academic areas. We still have much work to do, but we are making progress."

Under Excellence for All, the District implemented new data and assessment systems to track student progress. The District also created a ground-breaking teacher evaluation system and implemented a new student assignment plan, focused on creating neighborhood schools.

In the final District Scorecard from Excellence for All, the District did not meet its targets. However, significant growth was achieved in key areas, and in the final year the District saw annual growth in 20 of 23 academic measurements.

Highlights of the 2013 include:

  • More Seattle students are graduating: The District improved from 62 percent in 2007-08 (baseline year) to 72 percent in 2012-13.
  • More students are taking college-level courses: Only 51 percent of graduates completed advanced college-level courses in 2007-08, compared to 72 percent in 2012-13.
  • Seattle students are outperforming the state average on state math and science tests.
  • In 4th grade mathematics, 56 percent passed the state test in 2007-08, compared to 70 percent in 2012-13 (the state average increased from 54 percent to 63 percent during that same timeframe).

Achievement gaps still remain, Banda said. For example, the proportion of white students passing state math exams in grades 3 to 8 was 83 percent, compared to 81 percent of Asian students, 54 percent of Hispanic/Latino students, 46 percent of Pacific Islanders, 42 percent of Native Americans, and 41 percent of African American students.

"Our achievement gap is unacceptable," Banda said. "Although we are making some progress in closing the gaps, we simply must do better."

However, the District has seen a discernible gap-closing trend in the Southeast region since the 2009-10 school year.

"Quality teaching matters. It's important to note that many of these schools were the early adopters and implementers of our teacher and principal evaluation system," Banda said. "This was a turning point and we hope that as we continue to elevate the teaching and leadership practice, we will see all of our students achieving at high levels."

Every year the District segments schools based on their absolute performance and year-to-year growth. This performance ranking — from Level 1 (low) to Level 5 (high)— allows the District to design customized support for schools and students, and to provide clear measures of success for families and community members.

In 2008, 41 percent of schools were a Level 1 or 2. In 2013, only 16 percent of schools are a Level 1 or 2.

"Each year we have seen schools make significant gains in academic performance and student growth," Banda said. "Since changing our system to neighborhood schools, we are getting closer to ensuring equity across the District in making sure every school is a high performing school."

A few highlights of school performance this year:

  • West Seattle Elementary and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary improved from a Level 1 to Level 3
  • Three Southeast elementary schools rose to Level 5: Beacon Hill International, Maple and Wing Luke elementary
  • Garfield High School and Ingraham High School achieved Level 5 for the first time.<

The next five years: Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day (2013-18 Strategic Plan)

The School Board this summer adopted the new Strategic Plan, Every Student. Every Classroom. Every Day.This plan builds from the important work that began in Excellence for All.

"These goals, and the supporting strategies, will guide our work for the next five years, helping us improve student achievement, close the achievement gap and increase family and community engagement at the school level," Banda said.

Finally, Banda thanked staff, educators, families and the hundreds of partnerships with community organizations, our businesses and the philanthropic community, who are all working together to leverage resources in support of student success."

"We live in a global city. We cannot do this work alone," Banda said. "We need our whole community to work together to ensure our students have the 21st Century skills they need to thrive in today's world and graduate prepared for college, career and life."

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