LWSD students raise their average scores on state standardized tests

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) students improved their average scores on state standardized tests in many grades in reading, writing, math and science.

Scores rose in close to two-thirds of the grade/content area, continuing general upward trends.

“I’m so pleased to see our scores continue on a positive trend,” said Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce in an LWSD press release.

These scores also determined whether schools met the federal standards for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Since the U.S. Department of Education rescinded a waiver for the state of Washington, it must meet the standard of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). That law required that 100 percent of all students meet state standards by 2014. If a school does not have every single student at standard, they could still qualify to meet AYP if their scores were within the margin of error of 100 percent or if they showed sufficient improvement in both reading and math in all subgroups since the 2010-11 school year.

Eleven LWSD schools made AYP through the adjusted percentage based on the margin of error — showing significant improvement in scores or in the case of one school, having too few students tested in the specific grades.

The Redmond schools that made AYP were Horace Mann, Norman Rockwell and Rosa Parks elementary schools, Explorer Community School, Stella Schola Middle School and Tesla STEM High School. The remaining LWSD schools to meet AYP were Environmental & Adventure School, Futures School, International Community School, Kirk Elementary School and Kirkland Middle School in Kirkland.

Nineteen schools did not make AYP but were not moved to “in improvement” status since this was the first year they did not meet the standard. Twenty-one schools are in one of the five steps of the in improvement status.

Kathryn Reith, communications director for LWSD, said if a school falls under the Title I category — meaning it serves a high number or percentage of low-income families — and is in improvement, they have to allow parents the choice to transfer their students to another school that is not in improvement.

Reith said there are five Title I schools in the district — two of which are in Redmond (Redmond and Albert Einstein elementary schools).

“We are not a high-poverty district,” she said.

In addition to the allowing students to transfer schools, Reith said the district must also provide transportation for the students as well as supplemental educational services such as tutoring at in improvement schools. NCLB requires districts to set aside 20 percent of a school’s federal Title I funding to pay for these services, she said.

“We would have much more flexibility with our money without that sanction,” Reith said.

Non-Title I schools that are in improvement will not be affected financially, she added.

Schools that are in improvement can also be labeled as “failing,” which Reith said is a “very simplified label” because they are against artificial standards.

“It’s a bit frustrating,” she said.

Reith said these labels do not give parents and the school communities the full picture of what is going on at the school, what things are going well and what challenges they are facing.

Pierce agreed. She said as superintendent, she knows all of the hard work going on in schools and all over the region to address the needs of all students. Pierce is also one of 28 superintendents throughout the Puget Sound area rebuffing the “failing” label, calling it regressive and punitive.

“Sending out letters that label schools receiving Title I dollars as failing because 100 percent of their students are not meeting standard is part of antiquated accountability system under NCLB that fails to adequately and accurately describe student achievement efforts and results,” she said.


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