I sometimes wonder if I come off as a too-harsh critic of Northshore Schools. I spend most of my days thinking about how to improve educational outcomes in our state and district, and I realize NSD is doing very well compared to the rest of the state, which is, as a whole, DISMAL.
This article points out how well NSD is doing, despite the terrible budget climate, with lots of quotes from Superintendent Francois:
In 2010, the district announced new Goals and Performance Measures. We have made great strides at replacing curriculum and revamping the Honors (now Challenge) Program in junior and senior high school. Starting next year, almost all Challenge courses will be self-select: the student, with guidance from parents and lots of data from the district, chooses whether to enroll in more rigorous courses.
In my last blog, I mentioned how important it is for students to take Algebra 1 by 8th grade, as this allows them to take enough math in high school to meet rigorous college admissions requirements. One of the new Goals is to increase the percentage of kids finishing Alg 1 by 8th grade. Here is an update from last year on that goal:
District-wide, in this school year, only about 30% of students will complete Alg 1 by the end of 8th grade (which is up from 25% last year). This is better, but not good enough, which is one of the reasons the district has wisely opened Challenge up further.
So only 30% of students (and less than 15% of Hispanic and black students) are on a math track that will get them fully prepared for college. Compare that to Bellevue, Lake Washington and Issaquah SDs, in which 8th grade Alg 1 is the typical track –greater than 90% of their students meet this goal.
I want to throw this out to you for your thoughts. Federal Way SD AUTOMATICALLY enrolls students who pass the MSP/HSPE into advanced classes. Parents can opt their kids out, but few do. Results show that even kids who weren’t “A” students are both passing the rigorous classes and demonstrating deeper learning. Should we do this here? That would put 77% of all students into 8th grade Alg 1, and more than 90% of HS kids into AP English classes.
Do you think we ought to raise the bar even higher in Northshore?