This first examination is for elementary. The lows:
- AAA, Concord and Emerson. Just abysmal. Reading the recent news story about AAA, I hope with a new principal, 6 new teachers, a math coach and a reading coach that results - major results - show in 2 years. Period. It is just unconscionable to keep this school alive if these students are so behind. The forward motion AAA's 4th graders saw last year vanished this year. Their pass rate on all three subjects is 14.3%, Concord's is 14.6%, and Emerson's is 9.3%
- Lots of schools are low in math. Sixteen of them are below 40% in the math portion. Emerson is the lowest at 18.6%.
- Some of the lower performing schools are in a holding pattern. Northgate is a good example. Their scores have been flat for 3 years (with the exception of getting 85% on reading last year only to drop back to their previous 65% this year). They have a very low pass rate on all 3 subjects of 20%.
- There are schools that are performing very well. But, there are interesting oddities even here. The usual suspect, Lowell, is at the top but okay, we all knew that. So there's Bryant, Hay, Lafayette, McGilvra, Montlake, North Beach, View Ridge, Wedgwood, and Whittier; all of them are performing at 80% or above in all three subject areas (I gave a pass to anyone at 79).
- But there are rising stars like Schmitz Park which is quietly building itself up. It had an 87.2% for writing, one of the highest scores in the city. Another school moving up is Olympic View. I looked back to 2003-04 and they have been steadily moving up in every subject. (They backslid last year to a 55.4% in math and yanked it back up all the way to 84.6%. They also have a pretty diverse population for a north end school.) Loyal Heights is another one with an 88.9% in math, 92.1 in reading and 77.8 in writing. Also, I shouldn't overlook West Woodland which has scores up and near the low 90s in reading and math. Van Asselt is a south end school that is doing well despite a free and reduced lunch rate of 83%; their writing score was 76.5% which was higher than Coe, AE 2, John Stanford and TOPS.
- The oddities. One is that some schools that do well in reading and math can really surprise you by not doing well in writing. For example, Coe has an 82.5% in math, 88.9% in reading and 69.8% in writing. Same at Bagley which had 83% in math, 91.5% in reading and 66% in writing. Same example at Salmon Bay. It makes me wonder if some schools are focusing on math (which seems to be the current crisis in education) and the writing gets less.
- Another oddity is the example of Bryant and AE 2. Both have fairly similar populations and free/reduced lunch. AE 2 has 296 students and Bryant 528. And yet while AE 2 is scoring at 94.3% in reading, their math score is 68.6% and writing is 68.6%. Bryant had a 92.4% in reading, 88.6% in math and 86.1 in writing.
- North Beach scored an 91.9% in math, Lawton had a 90.7 and Wedgwood had a 94.4%. I know that North Beach was using Saxon math. I have to wonder what these schools are doing and if any of their best practices can be exported.
- One of the most interesting things to note is that some schools do well in subject areas but may not be doing as well in their rate of passage for all 3 subject areas. For example, Olympic View is scoring well in all three individually (above 80%) but only 70.6% of their students pass all three. Bagley scores well in individual subjects and yet only 57.4% of their students pass all three subjects.
- I noticed that New School's free/reduced lunch student population is going down. It was 51.3% in 2003-2004 and it's down to 40.4%. I did a spot check and didn't see that kind of drop in other schools.
- I noticed on the OPSI page for each school that it lists the average number of years the teachers in that school have taught and how many have master's degrees. You hear quite a bit about less experienced and less educated teachers being posted to poorer performing schools. Doing a spot check of about 30 elementaries it looks like the average percentage for the number of teachers with a master's degree is about 58-60% (not bad). The average number of years teaching looks to be around 10. The highest I found for master's degrees (and this was just a spot check -someone else could be higher) is McGilvra at 85%. The lowest was West Woodland at 35% (with a somewhat low 9.1 years teaching experience).
There's a lot of schools out there that are somewhere in the middle and may be coasting below the radar. To paraphase from Death of a Salesman, attention must be paid to each and every school in the district.