Catharine Blaine K-8, Madison Middle School, Salmon Bay School, Washington Middle School, and Garfield High School, have been named as five of the 98 "Schools of Distinction" by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for dramatic improvements in student reading and mathematics over the past several years.
All five schools received the 2008 State Superintendent's Learning Improvement Award and the designation of "School of Distinction."
This is the second consecutive year that Garfield High School has been recognized as a "School of Distinction."
On Oct. 22, Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, School Board President Cheryl Chow, and principals and staff at the schools joined the state superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Terry Bergeson, to accept the award at a statewide celebration at Garfield High School.
OSPI's "Schools of Distinction" represent the top five percent of elementary, middle and high schools whose students have shown outstanding growth in both reading and mathematics skills over a six-year period.
This year's winning schools include 53 elementary schools, 21 middle schools and 20 high schools and seven alternative schools – out of nearly 2,500 schools in the state.
"I am very proud of the five Seattle schools receiving the designation of 'School of Distinction.' The success of these schools, which are located throughout our district, is a community celebration of our teachers, principals, staff, students, families and civic partners working together," said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson. "With our Excellence for All strategic plan in place, we want to ensure our community that we can – and will – improve student achievement at every school in our system."
To be considered for the award, each school had to meet the current year's state learning targets on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) for students in both reading and mathematics. Schools that met the reading and mathematics targets were then evaluated for six-year gains on the state's "Learning Improvement Index."
Because the award is based on improvement across a six-year period, only results from grades four, seven and 10 were used, as those are the only grade levels with six years of trend data.
School leaders from each of the winning schools were presented with awards and a large banner reading "School of Distinction – 2008 State Superintendent's Learning Improvement Award." Seattle Schools of Distinction will be recognized and celebrated at a future School Board meeting.
Garfield High School Principal Ted Howard, Jr. says his school strives to create a culture of openness and risk-taking, "so students are not only taught, but also question what they are taught." He says the staff's goal is to develop critical thinking skills throughout all grades.
He says a key program for students is the "Read Right" program.
"With a teacher/student ratio of 1-to-4, teachers utilize this unique program to accelerate student reading at a much faster rate," Howard said in a statement. "The program has proven very successful in increasing comprehension, content knowledge, critical reading skills as well as positively impacting writing and student confidence in tackling difficult subject matter.
Howard says Garfield's 9th and 10th grade teacher-student ratio in math classes is 1-to-25.