Spokane Public Schools examine learning progress as district finds kids’ math skills stagnate

According to district documents, the average elementary school student in Spokane Public Schools is not progressing fast enough in math.

However, those same students are close to achieving goals in language arts, the district said before a presentation“District Academic Performance Results,” Wednesday night at the Board of Trustees.

And in both subjects, the district said it is closely monitoring the progress of all students.

The district uses two online tools – Dreambox for math and Lexia for language arts – to measure individual progress.

According to the documents, the typical primary school student gained 6.4 months of performance. The district’s goal is 10 months, roughly the length of the school year.

In language arts, the typical student gained 10.9 months; the goal is 12 months.

“We’re better off there, for sure,” said Scott Kerwien, district student success director.

Kerwien said the district is taking a proactive approach, with many teachers dividing their classes into groups, with one receiving more “direct support” from the instructor.

Additionally, Kerwien said the DreamBox and Lexia tools offer detailed information on each student’s progress.

The presentation will also cover kindergarten readiness, which in Spokane stands at 29% — well below the statewide average of 50.4%.

This discrepancy has been attributed in part to the lack of affordable, quality child care in Spokane. However, the district has expanded its preschool offerings, as well as a full-day pre-K program at 11 elementary schools.

Wednesday night’s report will cover much more than elementary school scholars. The presentation covers all grades from K-12, with details of how different groups are doing in the classroom and in the larger context of the school community.

The surveys included questions about school climate and life skills. Also on the agenda is a discussion on student engagement, that is, participation in extracurricular activities.

Kerwien said student achievement can sometimes be boosted by participation in sports, clubs or other activities.

“We hope to identify how many students are involved in at least one area,” Kerwien said.

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