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Central Kitsap School District continues updating strategic plan

There’s always room to do better when it comes to student achievement.

The latest statewide assessment test scores, released Tuesday by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, show math scores for grades 3 to 7 increased on the Measuring Student Progress testing. In the Central Kitsap School District, fourth graders and students grades 6 through 8 had a higher percentage of students meeting math standards on the MSP than the statewide percentages and the high school on-time graduation rate was 10  percent higher than state average, with nearly 87 percent matriculating.

Central Kitsap’s results on the spring 2011 state assessment test became the second year students in grades 3 though 8 were tested on new math benchmarks in the MSP test. It was also the first year high school students took end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry, whereas before comprehensive math assessments were taken.

The new data, along with existing data and discussions will help the district in its final stages of updating its strategic plan, which includes creating a vision statement and updating the mission statement and goals.

“You’re always aspiring. Our work is never done,” Lynch said.

Discussions for updating the strategic plan started in the fall of 2009 and during the beginning of the 2010 school year, when the district began hosting community forums to receive feedback and input from parents, staff and other community members.

Lynch said he anticipates the district will be able to formally introduce the new “vision,” mission statement and goals sometime in the early fall. The strategic plan is always reviewed once a year and updated every five years, he added.

In the school district, 75.4 percent of third-grade students met reading standards in the 2010-2011 school year. The state percentage was at 73.1 percent. On-time graduation of district students was at 86.9 percent for the 2009-2010 school year with the state at 76.5 percent. In a current draft of the goals for the district’s strategic plan, an on-time graduation target is 90 percent of students.

“We don’t have to go back and say, ‘What are we going to do with this money?’ It all goes toward meeting the goals in the strategic plan,” Lynch said.

According to the Adequate Yearly Progress Summary, a requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act, for the 2010-2011 school year, low income students in the district did not meet reading and math standards in grades 3 through 8. For low income students in 10th grade, math standards were met but reading standards were not.

AYP is the state’s system to measure schools and districts’ achievement in math and reading as required by federal law passed in 2001.

Programs that help assist lower income students include free and reduced lunch and breakfast for eligible students in all schools in the district. Summer Academy is also available for students who need extra help — or those who need to recover credits or seek additional enrichment, David Beil, district spokesman said.

“It’s being able to work with every student in the classroom to better advance student achievement and student learning,” Beil said, adding that there are resources available for students — including those from low income families — such as mentorship programs.

Heavy impact aid is federal money that school districts with large military populations are eligible to receive. Central Kitsap had received nearly $8 million per year in this funding over the last five years. Because local property owners are not taxed at a high enough rate — local tax rates is one of the requirements for funding — the district will not receive this aid for at least the next four years. The district will be eligible to apply for the funding in 2014 with the aid coming in the following year.

Because of this cut, the district needs to eliminate about $4.5 million from its general fund, said David McVicker, the district’s finance director.

Lacking resources — which includes not only money but time and people — can be a challenge in meeting expectations but Lynch said the district is trying to be “innovative” in its approach, which includes seeking grants.

The district announced at last week’s school board meeting that the district has been awarded a three-year $2.5 million grant from the Department of Defense. Central Kitsap was selected as one of 26 districts to be awarded the grant.

The grant money will go toward supporting full-day kindergarten at Clear Creek and Jackson Park elementary schools, providing professional development training for improving student literacy and to continue standardized common assessments, said Lynch. The district assessments are done in addition to required state standardized tests but teachers are able to give them multiple times throughout the year and be able to adjust their teaching that same school year from results of the assessments, he added.

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