NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED529420
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-May
Pages: 52
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
Bridging the Opportunity Gap: How Washington Elementary Schools Are Meeting Achievement Standards. Research Report #2
Washington School Research Center
The 4th and 7th grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores for the past several years have indicated that the percentage of students meeting the new higher standards is not satisfactory, although improvement is being shown every year. There are indications, however, that while some elementary and middle/junior high schools are showing marked improvements, many others are struggling to adapt to the new expectations and to make the necessary changes. In this study the researchers examine the practices of the schools whose students have been extraordinarily successful at meeting Washington's learning standards. Their purpose is to add to the growing body of research in this state that is identifying meaningful changes in the schools that lead to higher achievement for Washington students. They examined three years of data (1999, 2000, 2001) in order to identify elementary schools that demonstrated either a consistently high composite passing rate on the 4th grade WASL, or a strong positive trajectory of passing rates with the latest year (2001) in the top group of schools. This approach yielded a pool of 22 schools that varied by F/R, building enrollment, and the two different longitudinal score patterns (i.e., either consistently high or strong positive trajectory). Research team members from the WSRC, OSPI, and principal and teacher practitioners from the State of Washington met to review the 22 schools. The result of this process was a final list of 16 study schools: (1) Benjamin Franklin Elementary, Vancouver School District; (2) Coe Elementary, Seattle School District; (3) Farwell Elementary, Mead School District; (4) Happy Valley Elementary, Bellingham School District; (5) Hofstetter Elementary, Colville School District; (6) Larrabee Elementary, Bellingham School District; (7) Lewis & Clark Elementary, Richland School District; (8) Lidgerwood Elementary, Spokane School District; (9) Lind Elementary, Lind School District; (10) Logan Elementary, Spokane School District; (11) Lynndale Elementary, Edmonds School District; (12) Ness Elementary, West Valley School District; (13) Seth Woodard Elementary, West Valley School District; (14) Sumas Elementary, Nooksack Valley School District; (15) Whitney Elementary, Yakima School District; and (16) Winlock Miller Elementary, Winlock School District. The explanations given by the school educators were similar across schools and districts. The researchers identified four "primary factors" that appear to have led to the necessary changes in the school to enhance student achievement. First, the "school and professional environment" is one in which adults put the well being of others, both adults and students, as the foremost concern. These schools are places where the adults care about each other, like where they work, and work hard together for the sake of the students. Second, there is "strong leadership" at these schools that has articulated a vision and set clear goals for the adults in the school. Whether by direct means or by more indirect approaches, such as the delegation of responsibilities, the leadership in the school has been strong and appreciated. Third, the curriculum and instruction in the schools is "focused and intentional", addressing the state's essential learnings. Teachers in these schools believe that their students, regardless of background, can learn what is required. With all adults working collaboratively with a common focus the results have been affirmative. Fourth, "assessment results inform instruction". WASL and other assessment results are seen as important sources of information for identifying strengths and weaknesses of students individually and of the school as a whole. Such information is used to provide necessary instruction and to guide the professional development of the teachers. In addition, the researchers also identified a second group of factors that were present in some, but not all, of the schools. While the educators in the schools identified the factors as important to their success, they noticed that many times they were factors that "enabled" or aided the adults at the school in developing the four "primary" factors. These "secondary" factors included small school size, district support, lack of student and staff mobility, parental and community involvement, and professional development. These factors may be helpful, but apparently are not mandatory. Finally, they tried to look "deeper" at the educators at these schools to identify any unspoken but implied characteristics that appeared to be present in all locales. They concluded that these schools shared one general trait that was at the foundation of their success. Succinctly stated: "A fundamental characteristic of all of these schools is that the majority of the educators are "on board" with the state reform efforts. The educators have all agreed, either because of philosophical belief, acceptance, or acquiescence, to move the school in a certain direction. A logical necessity of this trait is the personal willingness of each teacher to give up long-held beliefs and practices at the school and in the classroom." Appended are: (1) Letter to Principals; (2) Principals' Questionnaire; and (3) Interview Protocols. (Contains 2 footnotes.) [For related report, "Continuing to Bridge the Opportunity Gap: Taking a Closer Look at 10 High Performing Elementary Schools in Washington State. Research Report # 7," see ED529419.
Washington School Research Center. 3307 Third Avenue West Suite 210, Seattle, WA 98119. Tel: 206-378-5377; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 7
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Seattle Pacific University, Washington School Research Center (WSRC)
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Washington Assessment of Student Learning