Are Highline schools better off than 4 years ago?

Noting the election season just ended, Highline Public Schools Chief Accountability Officer Alan Spicciati presented the district’s latest analysis of its goals by using a common campaign line—Are Highline schools better off than four years ago?

Spicciati told board members the district had met its 2013 targets in five out of 27 areas of the district’s “Systemwide Measures of Success.” According to Spicciati, the district is on track in 4 areas, above baseline in 11 areas, at baseline in 2 areas and below baseline in 5 areas.

Using 2007-2008 school-year data, the district set a base line for progress in 27 areas with goals set to be reached by the 2013-2014 school year.

Using the data, Spicciati noted Highline is better off than four years ago in 20 of 27 criteria.

However, all five of the measurements below baseline relate to academic achievement. Spicciati said the poor economy may have affected academic progress.

The academic areas are enrollment in post-secondary programs, gap in college readiness, gap in secondary programs, reading scores and on-time graduation rate.

Spicciati said the district’s progress has stalled out in graduation rates. The on-time graduation rate was 70 percent five years ago, compared to 68 percent for the latest year reported. Under a new formula that districts have adopted, the latest graduation rate was downgraded to 62 percent.

Extended graduation rates went from 79 percent to 82 percent using the old formula with the new formula pegging the latest figure at 68 percent.

“Perhaps the greatest challenge of the district” is in graduation rates by race, Spicciati noted.

Under the new formula, on-time/four-year graduation rates for Asian/Pacific Islander students are 67 percent. Black, 56 percent; Latino, 47 percent and White, 73 percent.

The extended/five-year graduation rate is Asian/Pacific Islander, 75 percent; Black, 62 percent; Latino, 50 percent and White, 76 percent.

The areas where the district has already met its 2013 target goals are number of national board certified teachers, meeting of 6th grade math scores, number of students passing Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, meeting growth targets on test scores and satisfaction by parents of the district’s communication and respect.

Board members also heard results of a survey of Evergreen High students, staff and parents on whether Evergreen should have a single graduation ceremony or have separate ceremonies for each of the three small schools on campus.

Students expressed support for a single ceremony while almost 70 percent of staff favored separate ceremonies.

Superintendent Susan Enfield proposed a binding vote by students, possibly this week, but an Evergreen teacher cautioned that students should be adequately informed about the choices.

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