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Four Struggling Schools Dramatically Improve Learning
Extra funding and assistance has helped improve state test scores

OLYMPIA — March 11, 2015 — Four schools that had been designated as among the state’s chronically lowest performing are no longer in that category, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced today.

The schools’ districts, known as Required Action Districts, received money and assistance to help the schools improve. The four districts and schools are:

  • Morton School District – Morton Junior-Senior High School
  • Onalaska – Onalaska Middle School
  • Renton – Lakeridge Elementary School
  • Soap Lake – Soap Lake Middle and Senior High School

“This is great news,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “It shows that with intentional assistance and focus, struggling schools can become successful schools. We can turn around schools only when we demand the same for all students that we demand for our own children.”

The schools were identified in 2011 as persistently lowest-achieving, meaning that scores in state tests for reading and math from 2007-08 to 2009-10 were among the lowest 5 percent in the state and the schools had declining trends in test scores during that time period.

Data from 2012 through 2014 show that all four schools are no longer in the lowest 5 percent, none of the four have declining trends and each is making progress in closing achievement gaps.

Based on the gains, three of the districts are being considered for exiting Required Action status. Soap Lake would remain because another school in the district needs additional help.

“We know the attributes that are needed so that all students are successful,” Dorn said. “These four schools had the vision, will and drive to do it. I applaud them, and I applaud OSPI staff who provided support.”

John Hannah, the Morton School District superintendent, said that the process of turning around Morton Junior-Senior High School resulted in district changes as well. “What has occurred in our school system is a change in how we educate our students and work collaboratively with our peers,” he said. “There’s now an intentional focus on instructional practice by all of our staff.”

Required Action provides federal and/or funds to districts with schools that have been struggling with student achievement for at least three years. Once identified, the districts must create required action plans that follow federal intervention models. OSPI staff from a variety of sections then work with each district to implement the improvement plans.

The program began in 2010 with the passage of E2SSB 6696. The bill created a broad accountability system that recognizes successful schools and requires state-level intervention in districts with chronically low-performing schools.


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 3/11/2015

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