At the Central Kitsap School District board of directors meeting on March 27 administrators gave a presentation celebrating the work of three schools.
The presentation made constant use of the word “celebrating” and even once, “congratulations.” The mood was similar to that of a district whose schools had been recognized in the top 10 percent of the state.
The reality, however, was just the opposite — the school’s being celebrated fall in the bottom 10 percent state-wide for meeting special education standards.
Woodlands Elementary, Pinecrest Elementary and Fairview Junior High were identified by the state as needing targeted intervention.
Pinecrest and Fairview were characterized as “Focus” schools, meaning they fall in the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools for meeting standards in special education. Woodlands was characterized as an “emerging” school, meaning it falls slightly higher — in the bottom 20 percent.
The school district said Woodlands, Pinecrest and Fairview were identified by the state based on their performance from the 2009 to 2011 school years.
Franklyn MacKenzie, Central Kitsap’s secondary teaching director, said the district isn’t celebrating the schools’ poor performance, but is celebrating the extra work put in by teachers to fix those numbers.
Central Kitsap Education Association President Kirsten Nicholson thanked the district for recognizing the teachers. Nicholson noted that teachers have told her they felt “squeezed” by the added rigors.
“The staff in those buildings are working incredibly hard,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson went on to say that the presentation could have been more balanced, examining the challenges, instead of only celebrating the changes.
Because new interventions were not implemented until this school year, it’s too early to tell if or how much they might help, but that isn’t stopping the optimism within the school district.
“We’ll know down the line how well those students are doing,” MacKenzie said. “I don’t think it’s too early to celebrate the fact that (the teachers) are working hard.”
Teachers and administrators at the three schools began implementing intervention programs this school year to turn around the low performance numbers.
Focus schools have a number of performance goals imposed on them by the state in order to improve their performance. Some of those goals include assessing needs, developing and implementing an intervention plan and monitoring progress every 90-days.
Along with these goals comes support from the state and from the local educational service district (ESD 114). A “student and school success coach” was brought in. A grant was awarded to the schools for professional development for educators. And a state special education consultant was brought in, among other things.
Because of these changes, teachers and staff at the schools have been doing extra work and performing additional duties to meet the goals imposed on them by the state.
Pinecrest had as many as 35.3 percent of its special education students meeting reading standards, which is actually a few points above the state-wide number. However, only 11.8 percent of Pinecrest’s special education students met standards in math.
Only 14.7 percent of special education students met reading standards at Fairview — and math standards at Fairview fell into the single digits: 5.8 percent.
The emerging school, Woodlands, performed better than Fairview. Its percent of students meeting both reading and math standards fell at 22.6 percent in reading and 20.4 percent in math.
According to the district’s community relation’s director, David Beil, the state-wide number of special education students meeting standards is only 30.8 percent in reading and 24.8 percent in math.
Title I schools are those that receive federal funds based on having a high number of students from low-income families.