Washington schools that have been part of a grant intended to improve student achievement are showing impressive gains, according to data released Friday by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The schools each received federal School Improvement Grants (SIG), giving them between $50,000 and $2 million each year for three years. A total of 28 Washington schools with low test scores – including four in Tacoma – were awarded SIG grants.
Schools were required to use the grants to implement one of four federal intervention models. Tacoma Public Schools closed Hunt Middle School, named new principals and new faculty at Giaudrone and Stewart middle schools and supported reform efforts that had already begun at the time the grant was awarded to Jason Lee Middle School. Tacoma’s SIG schools are in their final year of grant implementation this school year. Next week, officials from the U.S. Department of Education will be in Tacoma to visit one of them, Stewart Middle School.
Data analysis by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction looked at the percentage of students in all SIG schools who met standard in math and reading on state tests after the first year of the grant. In math, 86 percent of Washington’s SIG schools posted either single- or double-digit percentage point gains in math, compared to 65 percent of SIG schools nationally. In reading, 70 percent of Washington’s SIG schools showed similar gains, compared to 64 percent of SIG schools nationally.
“We’re happy but not satisfied,” Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction, said in a news release. “It’s great that we’re outperforming the nation. But as long as there’s one student in one school not performing well, our work isn’t done.”
Dorn also noted that a high percentage of SIG schools are on track to meet new federal targets in math, reading or both subjects.
“We’re seeing success in schools that have concrete and reasonable plans in place,” Dorn said. “Every turnaround system needs to match its leadership and staff. We’re finding that with the schools that haven’t made gains, the match isn’t there.”