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Kent schools show mixed results in state's Achievement Index rankings
Utilizing an idea endorsed by leaders of both political parties, Washington Policy Center (WPC) has published letter grades for Washington state public schools.
The grades, based on the State Board of Education’s annual “Achievement Index,” reveal surprising results for schools in the seven districts of Southwest King County, according to a June 14 WPC media release.
The districts are Kent, Renton, Tukwila, Highline, Federal Way, Mercer Island and Vashon Island.
WPC is a non-partisan independent policy research organization in Washington state. For more information, visit www.washingtonpolicy.org.
Last year Gov. Jay Inslee said, “I’m proposing [that] every school will have a letter grade that will be given and disseminated then to the parents in the district so that we hold ourselves accountable.” Today Inslee continues to call for giving letter grades to schools.
“Parents of Southwest King County schools want to know and have a right to know how their child’s school is performing, and this resource gives them easy way to do that,” explained WPC Education Director Liv Finne.
According to the annual index, 10 of the 159 schools of the area districts rank “exemplary” — the top ranking given by State Board of Education officials. The index rates schools as exemplary, very good, good, fair or struggling.
If the Achievement Index used such a scale, “exemplary” would be the equivalent of an “A” grade while “struggling” would be considered an “F.” Even though the idea of assigning letter grades has wide appeal, state government has yet to adopt the change.
Overall, 25.5 percent of Southwestern King County area schools are in the bottom two categories of the index — “fair” or “struggling” — while 46.5 percent of schools finished in the middle, a rating of “good.” If the Index used a grading scale of A–F, 72 percent of these schools would receive a “C” grade or lower.
To view the state's Achievement Index school ratings online, go to https://eds.ospi.k12.wa.us/WAI/IndexReport. The full Achievement Index covers the 2011–12 school year.
The best- and worst-scoring schools from the Southwest King County area districts are listed below.
• Kent School District
Best: Sawyer Woods Elementary – Very Good (B)
Worst: Cedar Valley Elementary – Struggling (F)
• Renton School District
Best: Lindbergh Senior High School– Exemplary (A)
Worst: Renton Academy– Fair (D)
• Tukwila School District
Best: Cascade View Elementary – Exemplary (A)
Worst: Showalter Middle School– Fair (D)
• Highline School District
Best: Health Sciences and Human – Exemplary (A)
Worst: Beverly Park Elementary – Fair (D)
• Federal Way School District
Best: Federal Way Public Academy – Exemplary (A)
Worst: Wildwood Elementary – Struggling (F)
• Mercer Island School District
Best: Island Park Elementary – Exemplary (A)
Worst: Lakeridge Elementary – Good (C)
• Vashon Island School District
Best: Vashon Island High School – Very Good (B)
Worst: Chautauqua Elementary – Fair (D)
The annual Achievement Index is a ranking of 2,189 public schools in Washington State based on data compiled by the State Board of Education for the 2011–12 school year. It is conducted to determine whether school officials are fulfilling their paramount duty under the state constitution to provide a quality education for every child.
• Only 6 percent of Southwest King County public schools are considered Exemplary
• 25.5 percent of public schools of the Southwest King County area are Fair or Struggling
• Public schools in Washington state receive $10,320 per student per year in operating funds
• Since 1980, education spending (adjusted for inflation) has more than doubled, while the number of students, due to smaller families, has increased by only one-third.
“One potential policy change is adjusting the Achievement Index by using an A–F grading scale,” said Finne. “Such a change would make it easier for parents to understand how their child’s school is performing. Legislation has already been introduced in the 2013 Washington Legislative session that would accomplish that goal.”