Welcome to the start of another great school year, and "thank you" to staff, students, and parents for all you've done to generate such a smooth start.
For those of you who might be new to Everett Public Schools or are newly interested, here are a few highlights about the district you may not yet know.
Each year the professionals in this district help more and more students graduate -- college and career ready. We have done so during a time state funding for schools took a serious nose dive. Last year, state data indicates our three comprehensive high schools achieved more than 90 percent graduation rates, and with a truly exceptional alternative high school, the district's rate reached 89 percent.
The "official" 2015 graduation rates are not yet published, but early indicators are that our schools will better their 2014 rates, with one of the high schools reaching a 98 percent five-year graduation rate.
In spring 2015, Everett Public Schools students took the new Smarter Balanced assessments for the first time. And for the first time, students in the district and across the state took state-required tests on computers instead of with paper and pencils. The new tests measured how well students’ knowledge and skills met the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Once again, more of our district’s students met standard at each grade level in each subject than was the case across our state. In some instances, the percentage of our students at or above standard were double digit percentages above Washington State. We achieved these initial results for many reasons. Exceptional teachers and school leaders began preparing students using Common Core standard two years ago. The school board's financial foresight made it possible to buy 3,500 Chromebooks for the effort. District wide support staff ensured everything was operational for students to be successful on the new tests.
These successes come at a time our schools' student populations are increasingly affected by poverty: in one of our elementary schools the percentage of students living at or below the federal poverty level is 90 percent; four out of 10 students across the district live in poverty.
Our students speak more than 80 languages, other than English, as the first language in the home.
Last year 987 students qualified for homeless services, and by the end of September our count was 126 higher than September of last year.
These factors contribute to an increasingly richer diversity in schools, and they can pose challenging barriers to educating students. This is why we serve our students and families with an intense focus on systematically removing barriers so students can graduate. We begin before they reach kindergarten.
Strong schools and a strong start can only happen with strong community support. Thank you for making Everett Public Schools an astonishingly inspirational place to work, to learn and to grow.