Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: Roosevelt is working for improvement

Letter by Darrell Johnston, Tacoma on Dec. 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm with 6 Comments »
December 21, 2011 10:41 am

Re: “8 Pierce County schools make state list of low-performing schools” (TNT, 12-20).

Roosevelt Elementary School may be in its debut on the list of low-achieving schools in Tacoma, but the issues impacting student achievement at Roosevelt have been looked at in great depth by school staff and district administrators.

The administration has supported Roosevelt with additional staffing and instructional initiatives that put the right tools in the hands of the right teachers to address the needs of Roosevelt’s students.

Results? In December, the district administered a math assessment aligned with state standards to all students in grades 1-5, and 79.6 percent of Roosevelt students scored proficient. That number includes special education students and English language learners.

I expect this new trend toward higher achievement will help remove Roosevelt from the state’s list in the future.

While Roosevelt may be listed as a low-achieving school, our teachers are some of the most effective in the district in improving student achievement from the beginning to the end of the school year. Our presence on the low-achieving schools list may bring with it some negative attention, but recognizing the needs of our students has brought them additional support.

We look forward to a swift departure from the list of low-achieving schools and extend our appreciation to the many parents, volunteers and staff from school to state level who have contributed towards instructional improvement at Roosevelt.

(Johnston is the principal at Roosevelt Elementary School.)

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. igotdabombfool says:

    Give us some numbers. What percentage of Roosevelt students (grades 1-5) scored proficient in previous years? Was the test given equivalent to the MSP?

    According to the Washington State Report Card for 2010-2011 school year, grades 3-5 collectively scored 76.4 percent proficient in math. It would seem to me that the school has stayed status quo.


  2. cclngthr says:

    Mr. Johnston,

    As a principal, you should be aware that student schievement should be a priority in your school; particularly with the student population you work with (I have taught in your building for several years, so I know the student demographics). Apparently, from test scores, which test concepts the sate mandates, Roosevelt is not doing well, or well enough to meet industry standards (industry meaning standards required for minimum qualifications for people as adults to qualify for such positions).

    I am very concerned why administrators like you allow students to move ahead without mastering minimum standards of reading, math, writing and other core concepts. What I see administrators do is when a teacher feels a student should fail, you do not support that teacher in upholding that failure and holding the student, and parent accountability in making an effort in class.

    At the same time, you as an administrator also must require teachers to ensure, thus guarantee every student has mastered the concepts being taught. Are the teachers allowed to use their professional judgement in teaching or are they locked into the curriculum mandated by the district?

  3. cclngthr says:

    Proficiency in my mind should consist of mastering concepts with an 80% passing rate.

    Mr. Johnston, is proficiency accoding to your test you gave rate passage with a .50 GPA standard; as with district criteria for passing a class?

    To me, proficiency means mastering concepts with an accuracy rate of 80% or better score on that same test.

    I do know Tacoma School District proficiency ratings allow passing with a D- on course and concept passing criteria. That is far below standards set by businesses, colleges, trade schools, and minimum criteria expected of adults.

  4. cclngthr says:

    It is my guess the standard used by the test given to students is the same standard to “pass” a course in the Tacoma School District. That standard is a D-, or a GPA of .50.

    If this is the case, according to Mr. Johnston’s letter, 79.6% of his students are only achieving with a D- as their grade. A D- is not sufficient in making a grade when that normal standard of achievement in the real world is a 2.0 GPA or a C or higher grade.

    Real world reality demands mastery of concepts. As I mentioned in various threads here and elsewhere, I expect students to have prerequisite skills PRIOR to enrolling in a class. When I taught auto, industry standard of that particular field expects at a minimum students to posess and have mastered the following concepts”
    High school reading/writing (at leat a 10th grade level).
    High school 10th grade math, preferably Algebra 2 with Geometry 1
    High school computer science (to understand ECU operation)
    Concepts in measurement, volume, weight, and pressure have to be mastered before students should attend any auto class because the industry expects this knowledge due to constant use of these concepts in the field.

  5. Not sure how %grades relate to letter grades these days, but IMO on achievement tests passing should be a ā€˜Cā€™ which indicates average performance, with one retest allowed for those who score below average.

  6. cclngthr says:

    School district policy in TSD and other districts allow “passage” of tests and courses with a D-, which are below the threshold you (and I)have. That is the typical standard they use.

    It would not suprise me one bit if the test given to Roosevelt students passed them with a grade of a D-. That 79.6% would be 25% (or less) if the test requires an 80% mastery.

    I know the MSP requires students to master concepts, but I also think the mastery score is not 80%.

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