Only 2 area schools are A-rated by state
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Peninsula Daily News
Kindergartners at Hamilton Elementary take the traditional Umbrella Walk on the first day of spring in 2012. The Port Angeles school and Neah Bay Elementary were the only two on the North Olympic Peninsula to be awarded A's by the Washington Policy Center.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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How the schools stacked up
Grades of North Olympic Peninsula schools, as determined by the Washington Policy Center to provide a sample for state Legislators considering a new measure of school achievement, are:
Cape Flattery School District
■ Clallam Bay High School — D.
■ Neah Bay Elementary School
— A.
■ Neah Bay Junior/Senior High School — D.
Brinnon School District
■ Brinnon School (K-8) — F.
Chimacum School District
■ Chimacum Elementary School
— D.
■ Chimacum Middle School — C.
■ Chimacum High School — D.
Crescent School District
■ Crescent School (K-12) — D.
Port Angeles School District
■ Dry Creek Elementary School
— C.
■ Franklin Elementary School — C.
■ Hamilton Elementary School
— A.
■ Jefferson Elementary School
— C.
■ Roosevelt Elementary School
— C.
■ Stevens Middle School — B.
■ Port Angeles High School — C.
Port Townsend School District
■ Grant Street Elementary School — D.
■ Blue Heron Middle School — C.
■ Port Townsend High School — C.
Quilcene School District
■ Quilcene School (K-12) — C.
Quillayute Valley School District
■ Forks Elementary School — C.
■ Forks Middle School — C.
■ Forks High School — D.
Quileute Tribal School
■ Quileute Tribal School (K-12)
— F.
Sequim School District
■  Helen Haller Elementary School — B.
■ Greywolf Elementary School
— B.
■ Sequim Middle School — C.
■ Sequim High School — C.
-- Peninsula Daily News
Two North Olympic Peninsula schools would have received A grades, while three would receive F's under a grading system under consideration by the state Legislature.

The grades are not an official measure of school achievement, although proposed legislation could create the system for the 2013-14 school year.

Neah Bay Elementary School in Neah Bay and Hamilton Elementary School in Port Angeles each received an A rating for the 2011-12 school year, and three schools were assigned a B grade, or “above average”: Stevens Middle School in Port Angeles, and Sequim's Helen Haller and Greywolf Elementary schools, according to a sample of school grades prepared for state legislators considering an education bill.

Brinnon, Crescent and Quileute Tribal schools were designated as “struggling” and given F or “failing” grades.

Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Sequim high schools each got a C, while Neah Bay, Clallam Bay, Chimacum, Forks and Crescent high schools were assigned D's.

C was the most common grade awarded.

Of the 27 North Olympic Peninsula schools that were rated in the sample grades prepared by the Washington Policy Center, nearly half — 13 — received a C, for “satisfactory” performance, while seven schools got a D for “less than satisfactory.”

The Washington Policy Center used a formula based on the 2011-12 Washington Public School Achievement Index, which was mandated by the state Legislature and adopted by the State Board of Education and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to evaluate schools in 2009.

Grades were dependent on improvement by low-income students, general student achievement on state tests and college entrance exams and graduation rates, and schools also were compared against other schools of similar size and demographics.

This year, a school's grade is not attached to an award. Next year, however, there may be cash attached to getting good marks, according to bills under consideration in the state Legislature.

State Senate Bill 5328 and House Bill 1476, sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, would create an A-through-F school grading program based on the State Board of Education's Public School Achievement Index.

The grading system would “give parents and taxpayers a clear, understandable measure of each school's performance in serving the learning needs of children” and create a financial incentives for high-achieving schools, according to the report prepared by the Washington Policy Center.

Under the proposed legislation, grade evaluations would officially begin for the 2013-14 school year.

Neah Bay Principal Alice Murner credited small class sizes, community and parent involvement in school activities for the school's top rating.

“It makes a huge difference,” Murner said of the classroom sizes, which she said average 14 or 15 students, with one or two classrooms per grade.

One of the tools she cited for the school's recent success was letting students take control of their own learning.

“The students understand what their goals are and how to get there,” she said.

At Port Angeles' Hamilton Elementary, Principal Gary Pringle was proud that his school was rated an A school.

“Credit goes to the whole Port Angeles district,” Pringle said, noting that schools often share students, and work together.

The school couldn't have done it without a great parent-teacher organization, AmeriCorps volunteers and the hard work families put in, he said.

Regional middle schools had the strongest average showing, with Chimacum, Forks, Sequim and Blue Heron in Port Townsend each receiving a C, in addition to the B earned by Stevens.

Elementary-school ratings were mixed, and included two A and three B grades, along with C's at Forks Elementary School and Port Angeles' four remaining elementary schools — Franklin, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Dry Creek.

Grant Street Elementary in Port Townsend and Chimacum Elementary each received a D.

The three smallest school districts received F ratings.

Each of those small district schools are combined schools, with multiple school levels sharing a single facility.

Brinnon School is a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, while Crescent School and Quileute Tribal School teach kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“I know we have a lot of work to do,” said Crescent Superintendent Clayton Mork, who is in his first year at the district.

Mork said he was unfamiliar with the proposed grading system, but similar indicators have sent the same message.

The district is implementing new strategies to improve students' academic scores, including some that are being invented just for the district, Mork said, .

“I'd like to look forward for what we will see in another year or two,” he said.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: February 19. 2013 6:40PM
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