Students at Alki Elementary School in West Seattle studying science.
Counclmembers Sally Clark, Richard Conlin and I visited Alki Elementary School Tuesday morning as part of our periodic listening and learning visits to Seattle public schools.
Principal Clover Codd is half-way through her second year at Alki. The recently released school-specific scorecards gave Alki a Level 3 rating (Level 5 is highest, Level 1 lowest). Other key facts from Alki's scorecard include: 36% of students are on free or reduced lunch, a statistic often used as a measure of poverty; 79% of students are reading at grade level,
Principal Codd was obviously very proud of her students and faculty. Our quick, 90-minute visit revealed orderly classrooms, students from kindergarten to 5th grade engaged in classroom projects, teachers addressing the whole class or working with individual students, and writing samples from the kids plastered on classroom and hallway walls throughout the school.
Our visit provided an interesting contrast to the news about the global student assessment results released Tuesday and highlighted in this article in The New York Times. Be sure you examine this graphic that shows where the United States ranks on science, reading and math scores compared to about 65 other countries: nowhere near the head of the class.
These global assessments of student performance have been controversial in the past because of varying standards and questions about student selection (creaming of the best to take the exams) practices. This year's study, however, has received praise for its uniform application and randomly selected students. You can read more about the results and rankings, and who sponsored and performed the assessment, here.
What's the bottom line? We must focus our education policies and practices on what is best for our children because, ultimately, what's best for our kids is best for our city, our state and our nation. And that focus must include the belief that every student in every school in every neighborhood can learn and be prepared for college or whatever post-secondary path the student decides to pursue. The students we saw at Alki Elementary earlier this week have begun that journey.