Be proud of Mukilteo's 3 Schools of Distinction

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Nov 09, 2011

The part of my job that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to announce something terrific to our employees.

That opportunity came a couple of weeks ago when I was able to meet with the staff at Mukilteo Elementary, Olivia Park Elementary and Mariner High School to tell them that their schools had been named Schools of Distinction.

To those of us in the education business, this is a very big deal. Maybe it’s not quite like winning an Academy Award or the Pulitzer Prize, but I think it comes awfully close. It basically says that those three schools are among the state’s elite in terms of increased academic performance over the past five years.

This is the first year that both Olivia Park and Mariner have been named Schools of Distinction.

Mukilteo Elementary has now earned the honor three years in a row, which is a remarkable achievement given the method that is used to determine who gets the award.

Rather than award schools that turn in the highest percentage of students meeting standard in the state assessments that are taken each spring, the Schools of Distinction award was developed several years ago as a way to honor schools that are making significant gains in student achievement.

The process for determining that improvement was developed by an organization called the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

The process recognizes that some schools have greater challenges than others and that all students start from different places in terms of their academic performance.

Consequently, instead of just looking at how many students met state standard in the math and reading, the Center for Educational Effectiveness drills further into the data to find out how many students have moved from one level of achievement to another.

The analysis process is a little complicated, but provides a fairer way of comparing the performance of different schools. It combines the results of both the reading and math tests over each of the previous five years and translates that into what is called a Reading/Math Level Index.

The schools considered for the Schools of Distinction also must be those that are at or above the state median of performance in their grade level, be it elementary, middle school or high school. You can find more information at www.effectiveness.org.

The schools that earn the School of Distinction honor have a level of academic improvement that is within the top 5 percent in the state—a select group of only 99 schools statewide, compared with the more than 1,800 schools that are analyzed.

The list of honorees includes 53 elementary schools and only 17 high schools.

I have told you many times about the great job that our teachers and other staff members are doing for the children in this community. The Schools of Distinction honor at these three schools is yet another piece of evidence to support that claim.

I suspect that we will have more schools added to the Schools of Distinction list in the years to come.

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