Thursday, December 1, 2011

McGilvra scores high (as always)

The Seattle School District last month made public the annual School Reports for each of the schools in the system, and once again John J. McGilvra Elementary School had an excellent outcome.  This was the third year that the District used this form of academic reporting, and it was also the third year in which McGilvra was rated a Level 5 school, the top designation.  Slightly fewer than a quarter of the Seattle Public Schools qualified as Level 5 for the 2010-11 school year (which is the period covered by the recently released report). For the District, however, this is a substantial improvement over the 15% of schools qualifying as Level 5 in the previous two years.

McGilvra's greatest improvement, year over year, was the results of the School's 4th graders on the State writing test:

The School had made the improvement in writing skills a high priority, and it's clear that those efforts paid off.  For the District overall, only 68% of 4th graders were judged proficient in writing.

Reading was also one of McGilvra's strongest suits, with 93% of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders passing the State test (versus 74% for the Seattle overall).  92% of the School's 5th graders, meanwhile, demonstrated proficiency on the State science test (versus 64% for all schools in the District).

The School Report also provides an overview of the year-to-year academic growth of students at McGilvra, compared to the "typical" growth of students statewide.  64% of McGilvra's 4th and 5th graders met or exceeded what was considered typical reading growth for students from one year to the next.  In math, 60% of McGilvra's 4th and 5th graders were met or exceeded what was typical.

Another set of variables covered in the School Report showed the results of parent, student and staff surveys conducted during the academic year.  In several major categories, McGivlra showed improvements year over year.  For example, the "Family Climate" survey (measuring parental attitudes) showed 90% 'family engagement" in the School, up from 83% the previous year.  The "Staff Climate" survey, meanwhile, reported that 65% of respondents were positive about the "professional culture" or the School, while 79% were positive about "school leadership."  This was a big increase from the 50% who were positive about the professional culture the previous year and the 69% who were positive about the level of leadership.  The improvements undoubtedly reflect the change in principals that occurred late in the 2009-10 school year.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the positive feelings about the new principal were also reflected in the Family Survey: in the earlier year, only 66% of the parents answered that they were "satisfied with the leadership provided by the school principal." Last year that number rose to 83%.

McGilvra's average class size rose to 22 last year, versus 21 the year before.  This was the result of an increase in overall School enrollment from 257 in the 2009-10 school year to 269 in the following year.  A more dramatic increase in enrollment almost certainly took place this school year, and we will be reporting on that issue and its implications some time during the spring.

Those interested in reading the McGilvra School Report in detail can do so by following this link.  The staff, parent, and student survey information is available here.


  1. Congratulations to McGilvra School for what appears to be improved performance.

    It was interesting that the improved student performance occurred as class size increased from 21 to 22.

    I wonder if this is causative or merely post hoc ergo propter hoc? Interesting questions.

    I remember when I was in grade school back in the 1950's. I was number 59 in a class of 60 for eight years. I remember we had six rows of 10 students in each row. We did very well learning to read, write and do our addition and multiplication tables. Discipline was not the problem then that it appears to be for our public schools now.

    Remember, I said 60 students per class, not 22, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 or 55. That was 60 students per class and our teachers didn't complained about it. That's just the way it was. Post war baby boom and lots of kids had to be taught.

    I would run our performance numbers against any grade school you wish to name and I'll be we would come out on top.

    But, then, we had a thing called homework and we did it every night without fail. We had regular report cards. We had a dress code. I could go on and on. But it all worked. What changed over the years that makes our school performance now so dismal? I wonder.

    O.K., just reminiscing. Please excuse me.

    Steve Waszak

  2. Yet another story about entitlement in Madison Park. It is starting to make us look bad.

    Bryan, you really should report on neighborhood topics that don't further the idea that Madison Park residents wield money and influence to get things their way.

    What? There aren't any? Oh, sorry.


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