Test scores rise as district weathers financial storm
Once again, the people in our community have good reason to be proud of the students and staff members in Mukilteo schools. The recently released state test scores showed that Mukilteo students continue to outperform the state average in most of the exams.
They did this despite several challenges, such as reduced school resources, an increasing number dealing with poverty and more crowded schools.
With all of the budget cuts we have been dealing with the past few years, we have tried to maintain a focus on providing the best education for students. We have maintained class sizes and have avoided program cuts that most directly impact the classroom, instead making the cuts in other areas of the school district’s operation.
I think that focus showed in the test results. Mukilteo students outperformed or equaled the state average in 19 of the 21 assessments given last spring. The percentage of Mukilteo students meeting the state standard also was higher this year compared with last year in 12 of the 19 assessments that were given in both years. You can find the details on our website at www.mukilteo.wednet.edu.
I was especially proud of the performance of our high school students. Almost 86 percent of Mukilteo students met the state standard in the new geometry end-of-course exam, a percentage that was 13 points higher than the state average.
More than 75 percent passed the new algebra end-of-course exam, which also was well above the state average. Several schools also showed exceptional progress in their test scores, most notably Horizon and Olivia Park elementary schools.
But, there also are challenges. Later this year, the state will once again reduce funding for public education. Within the next couple of months, we expect that the state legislature will make cuts that will reduce the amount of revenue we had planned to receive during the current 2011-12 school year.
We also expect that the legislature will pass a supplemental budget next spring that will cause additional budget shortfalls for 2012-13.
We currently are in a good position to weather the financial storm, but other factors also are challenging our children. More than half of the students attending school in the Mukilteo School District come from homes with a household income low enough to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price meals program.
For a family of four, that’s a combined income of less than about $41,000 a year. Only five years ago, less than 40 percent of our students were eligible for the program.
During the same time, the enrollment in our elementary schools has increased by about 500 students, which is enough to fill an entire elementary school building.
We haven’t added a school building since shortly after voters last approved a bond measure more than 11 years ago. Instead, we’ve kept pace by adding portables. Five years ago we had a total of 41 portables on our elementary campuses and we’ve added another 17 since then.The hard work of the students and staff in Mukilteo schools, even in challenging circumstances, makes me proud to live and work in this community.