The Northshore School District (NSD) met for their first general meeting this autumn on Monday, September 24. School has been in session for a few weeks now and it is clear that the busy academic year is of to a stellar start.
Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid shared a busy recounting of spending several evenings throughout the NSD enjoying sporting events and music performed by the students. Additionally, Reid shared some exciting news about a partnership that has promise to boost tech and practices in the classroom and for elevated administrative purposes. Reid said, “In a project we’ve partnered with Microsoft on, we will have several folks sit in on cabinet… to look at how we’re working on processes and sharing info at the cabinet level. They’ll also be with me at Moorlands [Elementary School] (15115 84th Ave NE, Kenmore, WA 98028) looking at classrooms and how we’re using technology.”
Next, the Board reviewed Reid’s performance on Instructional Programs. The Board systematically and rigorously monitors against two expectations: reasonable progress towards accomplishing the Board Goal policies and the organizational operation within the boundaries of the Board’s Superintendent Parameters.
Reid then shared with board members the K-4 Literacy Model. Reid commented that there are 8,434 students enrolled in this group in the NSD and that, currently, 1,457 of these students are reading under grade-level. Combating this is the Comprehensive Program that includes tutoring, extended learning time outside of the classroom such as summer sessions, and professional development for staff so they can develop new skills to help bring students up and past their current grade levels.
Reid then shared what she said was really “rockstar” data. In 2017—the year the district moved their 9th graders from middle school to high school—the district reported that 1,437 out of 1,492 students had completed 9th grade by earning at least 5.5 credits. “We know that coming out of 9th grade credit-ready predicts that students are twice as likely to graduate on time,” exclaimed Reid. When 9th grade was completed by students in 2018, 95.5% earned enough credits to move on to 10th grade. “Kudos to our four comprehensive high schools… we can feel pretty good about this data,” concluded Reid. It is to note that Northshore had 1,677 9th graders in 2018; 185 more than in 2017.
“We have 2,300 students in the highly capable program. It is a 20% increase in overall enrollment and it’s nearly triple the amount of highly capable students four years ago,” shared Reid. She continued “I’d like to comment on that because I think there might be some folks that seem to think we’ve lowered the standards to have that many more kids [enrolled] but in fact that would be incorrect. The standards have been maintained. What we’ve done is screen more students that still have to meet the standard that has been set.” In 2014-2015, the size of the highly capable program was 863 students. In 2018 the size is 2,099. Enrollment is up but so is equity.
Director Sandy Hayes commented that the numbers were still low on Hispanic students and inquired why that might be. Reid commented that 231 Hispanic students moved forward as a result of screening. “There’s a story there and we don’t know what the story is yet.” Reid followed up, “It appears income matters…” Director David Cogan followed this and asked if data elsewhere had been collected nationally to see if it was possibly the test that was the issue and not the low-income status of a child’s family. Director Amy Cast brought in her pondering that some kids might have been missed when they were younger. The board decided that this was something that they had the ability to look into further. Results of this type have not been gathered and analyzed by the District to provide sufficient data to make a definite correlation.
Director Jacqueline McGourty stated, “I was really gratified to see… the data that we have on the different populations… there is such an improvement on the number of kids that have this opportunity. But also the thoughtful contemplation that there are clearly some barriers… it’s really gratifying to see that spelled out to see, ‘what can we do?’ and ‘what can we look at?’ to improve even more than we have.”
“I think we’re not done with this process, but I love that about us,” stated Reid. “We’re all in and we’re a committed team.”
“This just makes my heart sing,” began Cast. She continued, “You [Dr. Reid] said just because we’re doing good work doesn’t mean we can’t do better and that was a recurring theme here.”
Based upon the information provided, the Board found that the Superintendent had reasonably interpreted the provisions of the relevant policy, and the district is making reasonable progress toward achieving the desired results called for in the policy.