Supt. Maria Goodloe-Johnson says, “We encourage families to use School Reports as a tool to discuss successes and challenges with their schools.”
Seattle –Seattle Public Schools has made progress since starting its aggressive five-year strategic plan in 2008. Many of the foundational strategies needed to ensure success for all students are in place. The district is building on that foundation and will continue to work to ensure that every student succeeds and that every school is a quality school. “Many of our schools are achieving growth in student achievement,” said Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. “Our challenge – and our responsibility – is to replicate those successes across our system.”
Today Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will speak about the current state of Seattle Public Schools – the challenges, the achievements and the goals for the upcoming years – in her first ever State of the District speech, held at 6 p.m. at Mercer Middle School.
“I’m proud of the work our teachers, families, staff and parents are doing to ensure each Seattle student has a quality education. But we know we still have a lot of work to do,” Goodloe-Johnson said. “Today, we’re releasing district-wide data, and detailed information for each school, so the community knows exactly where we stand today, and where we need to go.”
Today SPS released the second District Scorecard, and for the first time, the release of individual School Reports. Both are online at seattleschools.org/area/strategicplan/schoolreport.xml and are available at each school. These reports showcase how each individual school is doing – from test scores to absence rates to family satisfaction with the school. The release of this data is part of the district’s goal of being accountable and transparent.
The two-page School Reports show academic growth measurements, student/family engagement and the perceptions of environment and leadership at the school, as well as student proficiency on state tests. The School Reports also include a narrative from each principal about how the school is working to improve outcomes for all students.
There are some bright spots in the district. Mercer Middle School, for example, has shown significant improvement in student growth and performance on state tests - this is an outstanding achievement in a school where 72 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
“Our goal at Mercer Middle School is to be the first high-performing, high-poverty middle school in Washington state,” Principal Andhra Lutz said in her School Report. “At Mercer we believe that the quality of instruction in the classroom defines the rate and quality of student achievement. Teachers and staff meet frequently to look at student work and to make instructional decisions that benefit our students.”
The District Scorecard shows 23 academic goals that SPS hopes to reach by 2013, such as the percentage of students graduating in four years, the percentage of students with fewer than 10 absences, and the percentage of students passing state tests. The District Scorecard also shows operational measures such as the percent of school computers that are less than three years old and the percentage of capital projects completed on time and on budget. So far, the district is on track in four academic goals, and showing improvement in 12, and is on track in eight out of 10 operational goals.
“Our kids can’t wait, we know that,” Goodloe-Johnson said. “So we’re aggressively making improvements. For instance, the district is supporting lower performing schools by providing more resources and direction on how those resources will be used. We know strong teachers make strong learners, and we are strengthening instructional leadership. We are using this data to shape real change.
The district is using the School Report data to group schools into five levels. These groupings are used to provide differentiated responses – specific, predictable interventions, supports and recognition for schools based on their performance and need. Higher-performing schools will see increased flexibility, while lower-performing schools will receive more support. All supports and interventions are drawn from a menu of national best practices that research has shown yield results.
The release of data and the grouping based on performance is all a part of the district’s five-year strategic plan, Excellence for All, which was developed based on a series of external reviews of programs and services; and with input from more than 3,000 stakeholders.
The District Scorecard and School Reports are intended to be a starting point for discussion with families and the community about what is going well and what needs to be improved.
"We hope School Reports help guide families in the same way they should guide school staff, by helping us ask: How are we doing? Are we supporting the kids in the right ways?" said Ramona Hattendorf, president of the Seattle Council PTSA, an association of non-profits that advocate for and support Seattle students. "Ultimately successful schools depend on the partnerships between parent and teacher, family and school, community and district. And for any relationship to take root, you need to have honest conversations and shared direction."
Added Dr. Goodloe-Johnson: “We urge our families and community members to read the District Scorecard, read their School Reports, talk to their children’s teachers and principals about what you want to see in your schools and attend a regional meeting in your area during the next two months. “We have a lot of work to do, and we can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of Seattle, working together, to ensure all of our children graduate ready for college, careers and life.”
For a list of regional meetings on School Reports that will be held from November 29 – December 9, during the next two months, see: seattleschools.org/area/news/1011/20101105_Regional_Meetings_School_Reports.pdf
To view School Reports and the District Scorecard, visit seattleschools.org.