Friday, September 16, 2011

Chinook Improves, Then Asks for Parent Partnership

Last year was Chinook's first with the support of a school improvment grant to improve its outcomes. Along with the grant came heightened accountability and expectations. Ambitious targets were set for the school to improve test scores, and the school made significant gains. Chinook's 7th grade math MSP scores improved by 24 points from 2010 to 2011, to nearly 51% percent proficient. Principal Mark Demick has analyzed the data and he reports that and that it was the largest historical MSP or WASL increase ever in Highline, Kent, Renton, Auburn, or Federal Way. Writing scores were also up, from 35% to 44% percent proficient. And students who stayed at Chinook from 7th to 8th grade saw their reading scores go up.

Principal Mark Demick (standing) and AP Robyn Wiens (far right) listen to parents

Thursday night, I joined Principal Demick at the Parent and Community Advisory meeting. Mr. Demick's comments celebrated the gains Chinook achieved last year before enlisting parents in joining the effort to improve the school.

It was a wonderful night. It was announced that 44 parents were there, although I would have guessed more and the ample pizza supply was gone before the meeting began. Parents learned of programs like the Community Schools Collaboration (CSC), which provides afterschool programming four days a week. And they were engaged around the best way for the school and parents to communicate. Most parents seemed to prefer email, although they had other ideas. One mentioned Tracey Drum's blog at Bow Lake as a potential model. Another stressed how important it is for the students to know that parents and teachers are working together as a unit.

One thing I really liked about Principal Demick is how frequently he related his own experience as a parent in the conversation. He shared his experience checking up on assignments his daughters might not have completed and shared how he wished he'd have done more to prepare for college when his now high school senior was in middle school. As the parent of a new middle school student myself, that one hit home. (They grow up so fast!)

CSC staff member Karly Feria addresses parents about afterschool opportunities

Congratulations to Chinook for pulling off a great parent kickoff, and thanks also to parent leader Terri Hewitt for helping to gather such an enthusiastic parent group!

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