West Seattle Elementary on “state’s lowest-performing” list

Just published by our citywide-news partners at the Seattle Times – an update on the state’s list of “lowest-performing” schools. Three Seattle Public Schools are on the list, and the only one in our area is West Seattle Elementary. According to the Times, Seattle Public Schools plans to send letters home to parents. And WS Elementary will get a new principal, because of the district’s plans for dealing with “lowest-performing” schools – if a principal at any such school has been there longer than two years, as has Gayle Everly, the district will replace them. The designation also means that the school may be eligible for a federal grant; the district has until the end of this week to apply. (Two months ago, we covered an at-times-contentious meeting in High Point at which local parents faced district leaders with their concerns, mostly about WS Elementary.) 2:39 PM UPDATE: We’ve now received the district’s news release about all this – focused on the grant possibilities – read on:

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) will apply for state School Improvement Grants for three schools eligible under the federal School Improvement Grant program. The three SPS schools eligible for the grants, being funded by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) through the federal stimulus package, are Cleveland High School and Hawthorne and West Seattle elementary schools.

The school district has notified the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction that it intends to apply for the funds. Under the program, which is being administered by OSPI, qualifying school districts can request up to $2 million per year, per eligible school for up to three years. The grant applications are due March 5 and successful applicants will be notified in April 2010 for the 2010-11 school year. The state has identified about 50 eligible schools and has $42 million to award over three years.

”The School Improvement Grant program provides us with a unique opportunity to transform these schools into high quality schools, and to accelerate growth in academic achievement for all students,” said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D. “We are appreciative of the additional resources being made available to support our investments in innovation that will strengthen leadership, instruction, and family and community engagement in these schools.”

The School Improvement Grant work will build on the many strategies Seattle Public Schools has implemented over the past three years that focus on improving school quality. These include a Performance Management system, with accountability at the district, school and individual level; aligned curriculum; targeted professional development and the addition of advanced learning opportunities across the district.

Working in collaboration with employee association partners and the school community, SPS is designing school improvement models that meet all grant requirements. The work already underway at Cleveland High School to convert that school to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) school meets federal guidelines as a transformation model. Work to implement STEM will continue, and the district hopes to receive funding through this grant program to further strengthen the STEM program.

Districts wishing to participate in the grant program must choose one of four federally designated intervention models, and Seattle Public Schools will use the “Transformation” model. This model requires that Seattle address the following four areas: teacher and principal effectiveness; instructional approach and reform strategies; learning time (additional instructional time for students) and community-oriented schools; and operational flexibility and sustained support.

Seattle Public Schools has been working in collaboration with employee association partners to select the model and begin to plan for implementation. To address the requirement for a focus on staff effectiveness, the district has agreed with the Seattle Education Association that instructional staff in these schools will:
• Be expected to perform at the third or fourth level on a four-tiered evaluation system.
• Have growth in student academic performance included in annual staff evaluations and be expected to show student growth.
• Have at least two years to demonstrate individual proficiency and student growth.
• Have additional career growth opportunities at the school that will lead to additional responsibilities and compensation.
• Be able to earn additional compensation based on school-wide growth in student performance.

In the coming weeks, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association will assemble a team of teachers and principals to further refine the evaluation tool, career opportunities and approach to compensation. Discussions are also underway with the Principal’s Association of Seattle Schools (PASS) about how the transformation model will be implemented in regard to Principal Effectiveness.

In addition to our collaboration with our employee association partners, the district will also work with families and other community members to develop more details of the transformation models. Family and community engagement is vital to this process, and the district will meet with each school community to share information and gather feedback and ideas as we work together to make every school an excellent school.

15 Replies to "West Seattle Elementary on "state's lowest-performing" list"

  • teachermom March 2, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    don’t run from a school in improvement. the money makes the work possible for the building staff and administrators. good things will come of the process if it is authentic, based on the needs of the students in the building (not some hypothetical utopic children), and led by someone from outside the district (the state provided a point person in the past, don’t know if this is still the case).

  • westseattleschoolmom March 2, 2010 (5:03 pm)

    Just took a tour of West Seattle Elementary this morning- which will be the assigned school for our kids under the new plan. I was deeply impressed by the principal and the learning environment that she and the teachers have created with such limited resources, and sad to hear that she is likely to be moved out. I hope that the district figures out how to fully support the school to continue to develop what has already been built there!

  • Kap March 2, 2010 (7:08 pm)


    Maybe they should stop the scripted reading program… D-U-C-K… and let the kids read.

  • Ken March 2, 2010 (7:15 pm)

    When it becomes a neighborhood school again, the demographic will even out a bit. This will increase the number of parents with English as a first language which will bring up the score average.

    I do homework with a ten year old every day and the outdated cultural references I have to explain to him (phonograph as a spelling word) come fast and furious. I can imagine how lost parents who are not from an English speaking country quickly get.

    And don’t get me started on “Everyday Math”….

  • marco March 2, 2010 (8:47 pm)

    @Ken “When [West Seattle Elementary] becomes a neighborhood school again”
    I don’t see this happening with the current assignment map
    I don’t think that money and new teachers/principal will help.

  • marco March 2, 2010 (8:58 pm)

    By the way, I’d like to link this with a past forum topic
    If WSE is failing again, will students have to be offered tutoring or a different school choice again?

  • alkigirl March 2, 2010 (9:48 pm)

    Wow…first I’d like to say that I don’t feel it is fair to use “test scores” from this school to rate the abilities of the teachers. I know first hand, that the majority of the students attending WSE are from non English speaking families. Is it fair to assume that a wonderful principal such as Gayle Everly, should be displaced because non English speaking children don’t “get it”? These test scores are not a fair judgment in the case of WSE!!!

    It is so frustrating to see so many kids that come from families that don’t have English as their main language, struggling to understand our culture, language, math and everything else. And because they don’t understand our language, then their perceptions of the skills they should be learning, are compromised. Is that the fault of the teachers who are so desperately trying to teach them, or the principal, who stands behind the teachers and students? NO. Is it the fault of the people coming to our country without the language skills that they need to succeed in OUR country? NO! It is the fault of our country for not making them learn our language FIRST!

    So now, our principals, and teachers have to take the blame for the low test scores that should have nothing to do with it, because the children being tested don’t understand what they are being tested on, because they don’t understand our language! How can someone who doesn’t know our language, pass a test?? These test scores should be thrown out the window! Credit should be given to Gayle Everly for standing behind the teachers who are trying so hard to help these children learn our language first, so that they can learn period! Gayle is a fantastic, caring, supportive and understanding principal who is being treated unfairly. Look outside the box people. There are reasons WSE test scores are low….the kids don’t understand our language! Figure it out….

  • Dano March 2, 2010 (9:53 pm)

    It’s NOT the school building….. It’s NOT the teachers….. And it’s Not the principal.

    It’s the elephant in the middle of the room that no one is able to fully tackle…. economics.

    Economics of neighborhoods, economics of families and where they can afford to live, and the economics of funding for schools.

    Sure, these schools will do better once they are given between 1 and 2 million dollars a year…. What school wouldn’t?…. I mean, seriously… we have been screaming that schools need more money for quite some time. Now these three schools will get it. We should not, however, think that the people of these school communities have done something wrong.

  • A March 2, 2010 (11:36 pm)

    I would like to see some kind of virtues/character program added at wse. There’s an elementary school in Bellevue that uses virtue and character lessons in their curriculum and it has not only boosted student self esteem, but it has helped build positive relationships in the school community. Positive behaviors help foster classroom learning environment.

  • teachermom March 3, 2010 (5:47 am)

    I am so happy to see the comments are supportive of the teachers, principal, and kids. Thanks community.

  • ws March 3, 2010 (8:13 pm)

    It seems like a huge chance was missed with the new assignment boundaries to re-draw this school’s boundaries to include more mixed income families. It is almost as if the district didn’t do that on purpose. Hopefully, we will get this money and it will help! Every kid deserves a chance, and a choice! It also makes no sense that after years in the “North” cluster, these kids will now be in the “South” attendance area, causing more segregation.

  • homesweethome March 3, 2010 (8:55 pm)

    This has nothing to do with boundaries and everything to do with high stakes testing — and its irrelevant methodology that is used penalize teachers, principals, students and parents by using a scale to rate performance of an entire school (and its students) that has nothing to do with actual learning. Read the full text of the No Child Left Behind Law, and any thinking person will vomit. Until we take learning seriously as a country, meet students where they are on the spectrum and address real community needs we will continue to fail all our students, further disincentivize teachers and principals while growing the schism between parents and schools.

  • alkimom March 3, 2010 (9:54 pm)

    My very sensitive speach impaired child attends WSE. He is in 3rd grade. This is the FIRST school which has embraced him, supported him and taught him in the way he needs. His teacher is AMAZING, teaches the class to respect and support eachother. My child is excited every day to go to school, understands his work, scores well and for the first time has friends. I agree that these test are worthless. (I would love to see a music program added with this money.) I agree that if we are not teaching and testing kids in their lang. then there is no way they will score well. Our teachers and admin staff should not be punished for this. I am heart sick that the principle who loves her students, staff and school will be reassigned after working so hard to bring fair education to ALL students.

  • curious whether to send my child to WSE or not March 4, 2010 (1:03 pm)

    We were just rezoned into WSE out of Sanislo for kindergarten for our 5 year old. Our son was at Sanislo for 1st & 2nd and then tested into APP. Our daughter looks like she is on the trajectory for APP as well. We are curious whether WSE will be a good fit for her, and are hoping for positive feedback from other families to help us make our decision. Any thoughts from other parents whose kids are on the APP trajectory? Economics and diversity aside?

  • ws March 7, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    APP seems like the only remaining “guaranteed” path in SPS with quality education, schools with adequate funding, and transportation included. We always wanted our kids to go to the local schools, but with the new “no choice” plan, I’d get them in APP ASAP.

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