Kent Phoenix Academy appears on state list for low achievement

Kent Phoenix Academy appeared on a Washington state list of "persistently lowest-achieving schools" because of a low graduation rate.

Kent Phoenix Academy appeared on a Washington state list of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” because of a low graduation rate.

A total of 57 schools from 38 districts appeared on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Information’s list released on Dec.19. Each school is placed into one of two tiers and then is categorized based on achievement or graduation rate.

The process of identifying the schools began in 2010, with the introduction of the federal School Improvement Grants.

That year, the 47 named schools were given a chance to apply for grants ranging from $50,000 to $2 million. As a state, Washington received $17 million.

For the 2012-2013 school year, however, no additional federal school improvement grants to support newly identified schools/districts are available.

“State law requires us to put out this list,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “But that law was also based on the assumption that schools would receive more funding in order to improve. To me, it’s completely unfair to call out these schools without giving them additional resources, but that is the world we live in now.”

Dorn explained that, of the 57 schools, only four have fewer than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

“These schools are dealing with very challenging populations,” Dorn said. “I know we’re in the middle of an economic crisis, but the past three years the Legislature has chiseled away at basic education resources. Those schools, and all schools, need additional resources.”

Schools on the list are identified using a variety of factors, such as the school’s average state test scores in reading and math from 2009 to 2011, the school’s graduation rates and whether the school has met the federal Adequate Yearly Progress requirements.

The Kent School District staff called the list “misleading with negative connotations.”

“We are actually very proud of Kent Phoenix and all the students and staff there have accomplished over the years,” said Chris Loftis, executive director of communications. “In fact, I can think of only three words to respond to KPA being listed as a persistently lowest-achieving school, wrong, wrong and wrong.”

Loftis credits the academy’s low graduation rate to the fact that the school traditionally takes on students in need of help. The OSPI shows KPA’s 2009-2010 on-time graduation rate as 39.8 percent.

“This is an alarmingly low number until you consider that the non-traditional instructional approach that KPA was founded on was to reach out to students that are credit deficient and invite them back into a system that cares more about their success in the future than the problems of their past,” Loftis said. “KPA develops individualized education plans for each student’s unique needs. The approach is phenomenally successful.”

Loftis pointed out that in a soon-to-be released Washington School Accountability Index, Kent Phoenix moved from the “fair” category it received in the 2009 to 2010 school year to the “good” category for 2010 to 2011, in regards to educational performance.

This is the first time a school in the Kent district has been named on the list for low achievement, according to Lofits.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Kent Police arrest man, 18, in fatal shooting of 13-year-old boy

Judge finds probable cause to hold the Kent man for murder, attempted murder and robbery

The Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle that handles juvenile detention. COURTESY PHOTO, King County
High-profile juvenile crimes continue to rock Kent this summer

Six incidents in five weeks include fatal shooting, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault

King County Correctional Facility in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, King County
Kent man charged with attempted kidnapping of 6-year-old girl

40-year-old man allegedly try to take girl from apartment complex parking lot

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Kent man receives 8-year sentence in 2021 fatal shooting

Pleaded guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter in shooting at apartment complex over parking dispute

Courtesy Photo, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Judge finds probable cause to hold Kent man for kidnapping girl

Man, 40, reportedly grabbed 6-year-old girl in East Hill apartment complex parking lot

King County residential property values rise 12.4% in SE Kent

King County Assessor John Wilson begins to release 2024 numbers

Three 11-year-old girls in Kent help stop kidnapping of 6-year-old girl

40-year-old man reportedly grabbed girl in apartment complex parking lot on East Hill

Kent Police seek male teen driver in fatal hit-and-run on East Hill | Update

Teen reportedly driving stolen vehicle and fleeing police during Saturday, July 13 incident; victim identified

13-year-old boy fatally shot in Kent on East Hill near Turnkey Park | Update

Boy found shot near apartment complex Tuesday night, July 16 identified by medical examiner

Kent School Board votes 3-1 to send levy to voters in November

Capital projects and technology levy reduced from $192 million to $97 million after previous failures

Kiwanis clubs to place painted rocks at downtown Kent parks

Purpose is to ‘spread joy and positivity’