September 02, 2005 Extra Credit
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September 2, 2005

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Reading Improves in Seattle

The following article appeared in the Seattle Times (9-1):

"After investing millions to train teachers how to instruct students in reading effectively, Seattle Public Schools yesterday celebrated two milestones — more than 60 percent of all students taking the 2005 Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) met the standard in reading, as did more than 60 percent of fourth-grade students in the five major ethnic groups.

"The results ‘demonstrate that focused, sustained efforts to improve are succeeding for many students,’ Superintendent Raj Manhas said in a statement. ‘I am especially pleased to see the progress made in closing the achievement gap in reading.’

"At all three grade levels tested in reading — fourth, seventh and 10th grades — the gap in achievement between white students and every minority group diminished, except for Latino children in fourth grade and Native American children in 10th grade.

"But the results also suggested the district’s students have a long way to go in passing the math and writing tests…. ‘Our math results, despite some gains, are disappointing,’ Manhas said. ‘So math will receive prime attention this year. We must have a sustained, focused effort system-wide on math instruction, curriculum and materials, and professional development.’

"One of the peak performers: Cleveland High School in South Seattle. About one-fifth of its 10th-graders passed all three tests, up from 3 percent in 2004. The school more than doubled its pass rate in reading and more than quadrupled it in math. Principal Donna Marshall, who joined the school in January, credits the teaching staff.

"Activities coordinator Carol Coe credits Marshall for launching a campaign to increase students' expectations of themselves. During WASL weeks, 11th- and 12th-graders were told to arrive two hours later than usual, which meant that during the morning, the entire school was focused on the test. Hallways were empty and quiet. The Cleveland staff saw attendance jump from 70 percent to more than 90 percent, the target the school had set for WASL weeks.

"The school took the sophomore class to Old Country Buffet to reward its high attendance. Says Coe: ‘You can’t do well on the test unless you show up first.’"

For the complete article, go to:


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Last Modified: 09/06/2005