Washington public schools in the news: US News names top high schools, Seattle’s “equity gap,” Gates recommits to standards

In releasing our Opportunity Index this week, we emphasized the state’s uneven performance in education, our Achieve priority. We ranked #18th in our Achieve score, but a dismal 40th in high school graduation rates.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports on Washington’s “best high schools” as determined by US News and World Report. PSBJ reporter Emily Parkhurst notes, 

The majority of the best schools in Washington state are on the Eastside and all 10 of the best high schools are in the Puget Sound region.

U.S. News and World Report ranks the top high schools in the state each year, and this year seven out of the top 10 are in Bellevue, Kirkland or Mercer Island.

Here’s the list from US News. Congratulations to the top finishers.

Another indicator of our uneven school performance comes in a national study finding Seattle has one of the nation’s equity deficits. The Seattle Times reports:

White kids in Seattle are almost ten times as likely as black kids to attend an elementary or middle school with reading tests scores that rank in the top 20 percent citywide.

Only Miami had a wider gap in a 50-city comparison of schools released Wednesday by the Seattle-based Center on Reinventing Public Education.

The Times quotes on the the study’s authors.

“We just have some pretty serious equity challenges here,”  said Betheny Gross, one of the study’s authors. “It seems pretty clear that African American kids, Hispanic kids, low-income kids in the city are enrolled in fundamentally different quality schools than other kids are.”

Education Week and the Seattle Times each report on a major address on education by Bill Gates in which he (from the EW report), 

…recommitted the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to its current work in supporting the use of high academic standards and helping teachers improve through evaluation systems that provide useful feedback. 

“I believe we are on the right track,” Gates said in prepared remarks at the U.S. Education Learning Forum here. “For today, and for the coming years, this is our vision: Every student deserves high standards. Every student deserves an effective teacher. Every teacher deserves the tools and support to be phenomenal. And all students deserve the opportunity to learn in a way that is tailored to their needs, skills, and interests.”

The Seattle Times reports, 

Working on reforming the U.S. education system is the hardest job they’ve ever tackled, Bill and Melinda Gates said Wednesday — more difficult and complex, even, than trying to find a cure for malaria.

In the first major retrospective address on their educational philanthropy work in seven years, the couple that leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation acknowledged that many issues surrounding education improvement have become politicized, and success has been hard to prove.

We commend both the Times and Education Week articles to you. The commitment to standards, reform, accountability and support for good teachers remain at the center of efforts in our state to expand opportunity for all students. It’s vital work.