In an effort to be more equitable, Washington state offered three Renton schools a chance to shine.
Bryn Mawr Elementary School, Campbell Hill Elementary School and Nelsen Middle School were all named 2019 State Recognized Schools and honored on Thursday, June 6 in Olympia.
Bryn Mawr was recognized for growth. The recognition was for making the largest yearly gains on a Washington School Improvement Framework measure, and narrowing the gap between the highest and lowest performing student groups in the school.
Principal Jaime Maxie stated in an email that a few elements contributed to their success were honoring students’ conceptual understandings of learning, instead of tradiational memorization approaches, strong staff collaboration and supporting students with social-emotional learning and positive discipline. Bryn Mawr is a Renton Innovation Zone (RIZ) school.
“We now have a school with a positive culture, one in which students are excited to come to school, one in which staff are excited to come to work, families who feel more comfortable now in our school than in previous years,” Maxie stated. “And a principal who couldn’t be more proud.”
Nelsen and Campbell Hill were recognized for closing gaps, and also for demonstrating improvement among student groups that have been “identified for support.”
This year diverges from previous awards by recognizing schools that are growing in achievement and low-performing students showing substantial improvement, in order to create a more equitable system that aligns with the national Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Recently, the Washington State Board of Education, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee decided to redesign school recognition in the state so it was more equitable. According to a press release from the OSPI, the system also recognizes schools with lower levels of achievement, but high levels of progress.
“Sixty-five percent of schools receiving awards this year have not been recognized in the previous three recognition cycles,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal stated in a press release.
The previous measures for Washington Achievement Awards were outdated and often resulted in multiple awards going to the same schools with lower-than-average free and reduced lunch rates.
As a result, 216 schools were recognized, with an average free and reduced lunch rate of 40 percent, up from the average of the previously awarded schools. The amount of students using the free or reduced lunch program is often used as an indicator of relative income status, though it’s not an exact reflection of students in poverty.