Volunteers with the Junior Achievement program taught third-graders at Margaret Mead Elementary School how a city functions.
Superintendent Message - May 2018
Equity, Opportunity and Every Student Future Ready
Each spring as the end of the school year approaches, my mind turns to graduation. Attending high school commencement ceremonies each June and watching our students cross the stage is one of the great joys of being superintendent. It is incredibly rewarding and emotional to hear students speak of their educational experiences in Lake Washington, thank the many teachers and staff members who helped them succeed, and share their future plans. Graduating students Future Ready is our district mission and vision, and commencement ceremonies reflect our accomplishment of that mission and vision.
At a recent LWPTSA Council meeting I shared that our district’s graduation rate has reached 93.3% - the highest of the largest 49 districts in the state. While certainly a point of pride for the district, I also know that this overall graduation rate for “All students” looks different when examining the graduation rate for different groups of students. Disaggregating the data by race and program participation shows the following graduation rates for last year’s graduating class of 2017:
- Asian students: 95.7%
- White students: 93.5%
- Hispanic/Latino students: 89.5%
- Low Income students: 84.7%
- Black/African American students: 78.6%
- Special Education students: 76.6%
- English Learner students: 67.7%
All students can learn and achieve at high levels. However, our data is clear: some of our students are not experiencing success at the same rate as other students. These rates represent actual students with hopes and dreams for the future. Our mission and vision speaks of “Each Student” and “Every Student.” We need to improve these rates for Every Student.
Multi-year trends in graduation rates, as well as other measures, show that Achievement and Opportunity Gaps are present for our students of color, our students receiving special education services, and our students from low income households. Achievement gaps refer to any significant, persistent disparities in academic performance between groups of students, based on income level, race, or program participation. Opportunity gaps refer to gaps in access to resources, programs, and other opportunities.
Our district strategic plan specifies the ideals of “Equity and Opportunity.” Our district work focused on equity and opportunity is about examining the educational experiences and academic outcomes of all our students. It involves examining programs and asking questions like, “Which student groups are represented and which are not?” It involves examining academic data and asking questions like, “Which student groups are succeeding and which are not?” Our work focused on equity and opportunity is about examining the system to identify and reduce barriers, eliminate bias, and work to improve the experiences and outcomes for Every Student.
The District Equity Team is helping the district to focus on equity and opportunity for Every Student. The Team includes parents, community members, and staff. You can follow the work of the District Equity Team on the team’s webpage, which provides progress and updates for the entire community. The Team is helping in the development of a District Equity Plan and policies to help guide our work, for the benefit of Every Student and toward the accomplishment of our district mission and vision. As a district, we won’t rest until 100% of students, regardless of race, income level, or program, experience success and graduate Future Ready.